Thursday, July 9, 2009

Où sommes-nous? Où allons-nous?

A mention in Le Monde of a report by the prime minister's Centre d'Analyse Stratégique sent me to the CAS Web site. I didn't find the report I was looking for, which apparently argues that the French fear a loss of class status by their children more than the statistics warrant. I did find another report, however, whose method astonishes me more than its results. This one, entitled "La crise d'après les mots, les mots de l'après-crise," attempts to evaluate French attitudes toward the crisis by asking respondents to state their feelings toward a corpus of 210 key words. This so-called "semiometric analysis" is then used to create a typology of responses to the crisis: "fighters," "retreaters," "train wrecks" (sinistrés), "reformers," and "rebuilders."

To take just one of these categories, "rebuilders" are people with "voluntaristic" and "dynamic" personalities, as exemplified by their positive evaluation of words such as "construct," "effort," "ambition," and "commerce," while they tend to distance themselves from "anxiety-generating threats so as to construct a serene and reassuring framework," signified by their favorable rating of words such as "tenderness," "feminine," "blue," "intimate," and "sublime."

May I venture to suggest that France's First Rebuilder is its president, who has always been voluntaristic and dynamic and who, since his remarriage, is in closer touch with his previously suppressed tender, feminine, blue, intimate, and sublime instincts?

If this were the United States, I would nominate this study for the late Sen. Proxmire's "Golden Fleece" Award. But this is France, so I will simply suggest that the work is probably an employment support scheme for jobless sociologists. It's a good example of the way in which crises not only make it profitable to dig holes in order to fill them up again, as Keynes suggested, but also provide their own holes, there for the filling by anyone with a personality dynamic enough, or shameless enough, to seize the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember a book review that started "This work fills a much needed gap in the literature..."