Futuribles Journal n° 431

Institutions - Société, modes de vie

A Trend Survey of French Values: More Personal Freedom, More Demands in the Collective Sphere


For more than 35 years Futuribles has shown an interest in the evolution of value systems and the study of their transformation, regularly reporting the findings of the surveys carried out every 9-10 years as part of the European Values Study. The latest wave of such surveys was carried out in 2017-18 and Pierre Bréchon outlines the first lessons from these as they relate to France.

In the context of social crisis that has beset the country since November 2018, the long-term analysis Pierre Bréchon provides here on the evolution of French values with regard to lives and society, brings useful perspective. Without disputing the difficulties they may encounter in everyday life (in terms of incomes, jobs etc.), Bréchon stresses that, judging by the latest surveys, society is not in danger of falling apart in France, the values of tolerance and respect for others continue to advance, and happiness levels are as high as before and remain stable etc. Individualization continues to increase, attachment to the protective state remains as it was, political involvement is stable and religion still steadily in decline. However, the attitude to democracy is more complex and the demand for public order remains high. Though these last two points suggest that a certain vigilance is required to maintain French attachment to democracy and France’s political institutions, the results of the 2017-18 surveys run counter, more generally, to the ambient pessimism.

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