Société, modes de vie
Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Over the last five years, property prices in France have risen sharply, which means that more and more lower or middle-income households find it impossible to gain access to the housing market or are forced to move into poorer neighbourhoods. This tends to reinforce the geographical and social segregation of the country. The French media have devoted increasing amounts of space to these developments. In a book published in 2004, Le Ghetto français (Paris: Le Seuil, 2004), Éric Maurin raises a number of points that make these changes clearer and easier to understand.
Charles du Granrut has read the book for Futuribles and summarizes the main conclusions here: society in France is more and more fragmented, French families are seeking at all costs to live in areas or neighbourhoods where they are likely to find people like themselves (in socio-economic terms) or of a slightly higher social class. They feel that this is the only way that they can give their children the upward social mobility that otherwise, unfortunately, tends to be blocked.
As a result, the social and educational inequalities become greater - since, according to this article, the environment (neighbourhood, other pupils at school, etc.) is a decisive factor in determining an individual's academic success. France therefore appears to be a fragmented society that cannot escape from its fragmentation. In order to remedy this situation, the indicators for monitoring it need to be improved, and public policies should be targeted more on groups within the population rather than on geographical areas.
In May 2004, having made the revival of the economy and of employment its top priority, the French government (via the minister responsible for the economy at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy) asked Michel Camdessus (former head of the IMF and honorary governor of the Bank of France) to produce a report on the economic and financial outlook for France along with proposals for corresponding strategic policy options. Among other things, the report was also supposed to "shed some preliminary light on the structural obstacles hindering the dynamism" of the French economy.
The report, produced under the guidance of Michel Camdessus and drawing on contributions from about 20 experts with a wide variety of backgrounds, was handed over on 19 October 2004. Under the title Le Sursaut ("The Sudden Start"), it adopted a highly alarmist tone as to the prospects for the French economy: with the risk of failing to keep up, the lack of jobs, the growing debt, etc., it argued that the country is in a downward spiral and that swift action is needed in order to prevent it reaching rock bottom. The report then proposed a range of priority policy directions, in particular aimed at making the labour market more flexible, developing services, fostering education and research, etc.
The very pessimistic tone of the report and its perceived bias towards market forces generated controversy in France, with some commentators fearing that it might become the "Bible" of the current government. Futuribles here provides a platform for two economists with opposing views of the Camdessus Report: Michel Drancourt sees it as a "lucid" assessment of the state of France, whereas Gilles Cazes thinks that the prescription proposed is best forgotten.
The authors begin by defining what is meant by "digital divide", distinguishing technological (basically quantitative) considerations from a socio-economic approach (taking account of qualitative aspects, such as the ability to use technologies, as well as quantitative ones), which is the one they prefer. They then present a typology of users (and non-users) of the Internet, showing the inequalities linked to social class, geography, age, etc.
As the authors emphasize, it is essential to narrow this divide if the European Union in future is to achieve its aim of becoming "the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world"; this must be done in order to prevent a widening of the gap between the older and newer members of the EU, and more generally between densely populated regions and isolated areas; and it is an important consideration given an ageing population, as older people tend to be less computer-literate. Moreover, it is all too clear that simply having the infrastructures for access to the mass of information available via the Internet is not enough; people must also be able to sort out this information, then understand and assimilate it. In other words, for a truly knowledge-based society to develop there needs to be a genuine effort to educate the public.
Lastly, the article proposes a series of policy measures geared to narrowing the divide, starting by installing the necessary digital infrastructures across the whole of Europe and providing universal broadband access to the Internet, just like access to the telephone in the past.
Futures studies should not be content merely with conducting high-level "macro" analyses but should also be concerned with revealing trends that affect people as individuals. It is therefore extremely important to be able to develop foresight techniques related to everyday life, so as to highlight via particular facts or ideas the changes taking place in the way we live and what they reveal. This article by Julien Damon is a perfect example of such an effort to apply foresight to daily life. It looks at an apparently banal topic - smacking - and shows how modern attitudes to smacking reflect a real shift in approaches to bringing up children and in respect for their rights and freedoms.
The author begins with a brief survey of laws against corporal punishment of children in different countries. He outlines the debates on this issue that stirred up public opinion in Canada and the United Kingdom, and then discusses the French situation.
He goes on to present the arguments used by those in favour of anti-smacking legislation, especially in the United States and France. He notes the growth of a major lobby in France to alert parliamentarians to the problem of corporal punishment within the family.
Finally, Damon argues that this mobilization of opinion reflects major changes in society and in the family: although corporal punishment has clearly been on the decline for several decades, there is now a move to prohibit it by law. Beyond the debate about authority versus liberty, it is also a matter of whether people want a society based on trust or on legal norms.
André-Yves Portnoff argues here that how far societies evolve depends closely on the values they hold and their ability to change. He takes as his starting point the example of the current Italian reluctance to adopt modern medical techniques such as the use of peridurals in childbirth, and recalls that the Roman Empire declined because of a "cultural and mental block". Drawing on various scientific and historical studies, he shows how the Empire "condemned itself" by clinging to "regressive" values, especially the preference for relying on a cheap and abundant labour force (slavery), rather than on innovation and investments in intangible resources as a basis for technical progress that might have allowed the Romans to start an industrial revolution well ahead of time.
By above all holding onto the status quo (preserving their leading position which they thought was at its height), the Romans forgot an important principle: it is impossible to make progress or to survive for long if one cannot imagine a better future. This is even more true if one does not mobilize the intelligence of everyone to do so...
Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.