Culture of France - history, people, clothing, traditions, women, beliefs, food, customs, family
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In all cases, this is voluntary for pupils. The nation historically has been divided into two linguistic regions: National identity is closely identified with the French language.
Inthe government instituted a further safeguard by establishing a commission on the French language whose role is to discourage borrowings from English and franglais the combination of the two languages. The Toubon law of mandates that French be spoken in all official, public spheres of life. The French state also has played a role in the protection of global francophonie. Numerous national symbols are associated with the French Revolution, which established the nation as a democratic republic at the end of the eighteenth century.
They were further reinforced during the Third Republic at the turn of the twentieth century. Known as the tricoleur, the flag is blue, white, and red. White is associated with monarchy, red with the republic, and blue with Charlemagne, Clovis, and other early rulers. La Marseillaise became the official national anthem in It was written in Strasbourg in but became associated with Marseille when troops from that city entered Paris singing it on 30 July It was an important rallying song during the First Republic but was not used on official occasions again until the Third Republic.
The Gallic rooster le coq gaulois became associated with the nation during the Renaissance. It was used at first as a royal symbol but during the revolution came to stand for the identity of the nation.
Used variously over time and sometimes associated with the figure of Liberty or Marianne, the rooster came to be known as a symbol of the nation during World War I. Today it is often used by sports teams.
Marianne is a symbol of the republic as a motherland and stands for the rallying cry of "liberty, equality, fraternity. There are multiple ways of depicting this figure. Statues and images have portrayed Marianne as wearing a helmet and at other times the Phrygian bonnet; during the Third Republic, she began to be seen wearing a crown of ripe wheat.
Since the nineteenth century, mayors have commissioned a sculpture of Marianne for their town halls. Now these busts depict popular models, the first of whom was Brigitte Bardot. The most recent model, chosen in after much discussion and debate, is the actress Laetitia Casta. History and Ethnic Relations Emergence of the Nation.
The emergence of the modern nation took place over several centuries and resulted from a combination of the cultural influences of Gauls, Romans, and Franks. France was inhabited mainly by the Gauls, a Celtic-language group, when the Roman conquest of the territory began in the first century B. The Gallo-Roman period ended when the Frankish peoples began to enter the territory from the Germanic east during the fifth century, led by Clovis. The term "France" comes from the Franks and has had three historical meanings.
The Treaty of Verdun in established the kingdom of "Western Francia" when land was divided between the heirs of Charlemagne's son, Louis the Pious. The medieval period was one of political fragmentation even as the state administrative bureaucracy grew. The Church supported the various monarchs, who claimed divine rule. After a long series of wars, France achieved political unity in the sixteenth century under Louis XIV.
French became the official language, replacing Latin in official documents, in The revolution of established the First Republic and abolished the monarchy. Attempts to form the First and Second Empires by Napoleon and his nephew eventually were over-turned by the Third Republic — This period involved a heightened sense of national identity, with a return to the republican values of the revolution.
It was also a period of heightened colonial expansion into Africa and Asia. A Fourth Republic was reconstituted after liberation at the end of the war, and this led to the current Fifth Republic, whose first president was Charles de Gaulle, elected in Le Puy lies in the volcanic mountains of south-central France. France experienced a period of economic prosperity after World War II known as the "thirty glorious years. The events of May marked a crisis in national identity as workers and students agitated for a more open and equal society.
National identity is connected to notions of citizenship, which were established during the revolution. The original criteria included factors such as gender, place of birth, age, and amount of property. Citizenship currently depends on proof of parentage and residence.
The national identity is based on several factors, including a concept of shared ancestry coming from the Gallic and Frankish past and territorial roots in the countryside, a shared national language and culture, and the ideals of the revolution.
It has also been shaped by religious conflicts between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews and by religious versus secular influences on government, especially in the realm of education. Current national identity is primarily an invention of the Third Republic and has been shaken by various events in recent history.
The degree to which a coherent national identity has existed is debatable despite the assimilationist policies of the government. Linguistic unity was achieved less than a century ago, and regional languages and cultural practices persist. The growth of the European Union EU and the influx of immigrants eventually will lead to a revised view of what it means to be French.
An important element of national identity is the identity card. Each person on French soil must carry on his or her person a card or document that demonstrates citizenship or another legal status, such as a visa or EU passport. The police have the right to stop anyone at any time to demand to see these documents. In a multiethnic state, there are two major types of ethnic group identity: Conflict between the centralized state and regional groups such as the Corsicans, Bretons, and Basques heightened toward the end of the twentieth century, when political autonomy became a major movement.
Corsica has won the right to limited administrative autonomy. These immigrants have come from various nations. The country has offered political asylum to peoples such as Cambodians and Czechs. One of the most significant conflicts has been in the area of religious freedom for Islamic groups. The "scarf affair" ofin which three Muslim girls were expelled from high school because they refused to take off their head scarves, drew attention to the conflict between the secular state school system and the religious beliefs of immigrants.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space There has long been a dichotomy between Paris and the rest of the nation or between Paris and the provinces. Paris is by far the major urban center, with Lyon following. Not until the s did the urban population surpass the rural population. Four-fifths of the population now lives in urban areas.
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More than half the urban population lives in suburbs, however. A movement of population back to rural areas, if not back to farming, has existed since the s. Only 3 percent of the population is employed in agriculture.
It is headquartered in Paris, with twenty-three regional areas. Paris is now linked through the English Channel tunnel to the United Kingdom. Several major highways built during the last few decades have improved movement by car. Architecture ranges from the grand works of the powerful in the cities, such as the Versailles palace and the new National Library in Paris, to the vernacular architecture of rural areas. Buildings dating from the period of state building in the Third Republic are particularly symbolic of nationalism.
The architecture of public primary schools built at the turn of the century in small towns and villages symbolizes the presence of the nation-state at the local level. These buildings also house the mayor's office. Churches symbolize the power of the Catholic Church, from Notre Dame in Paris to the village churches whose steeples once dominated the countryside. Vernacular rural architecture varies from region to region, reflecting climate, family forms, and cultural values.
Just as each local region had a local dialect, it had its own style of barns and houses. The use of space in rural areas varies considerably. Across the country, however, there is a strong emphasis on privacy within the walls of the house or foyer. Personal space and intimacy are connected, and close friends and relatives have much closeness and physical contact. Acquaintances and intimates are distinguished, and a high degree of formality is used with acquaintances. Food and Economy Food in Daily Life.
Food plays a major role in the country's social life. Wine and cheese are sources of national pride and reflect regional differences. Meals are ritualized, and full of social and cultural meaning. There are also political aspects to the meaning of food.
For instance, there has recently been much concern about the quality of "engineered" food and a rejection of foods that have been genetically altered. Another recent concern has been la vache folle mad cow disease ; the French have rejected the importation of English beef, which has been a major issue in the EU. Breton girls in costumes for a festival. Each commune generally holds a festival during the year.
Although the midday meal had great importance in an agricultural economy and is still the main meal in rural areas, there is a tendency for families to eat the largest meal in the evening. Breakfast is a light meal of bread, cereal, yogurt, and coffee or hot chocolate. In restaurants, it is common to have a price that includes all these courses, with a choice of dishes.
Meals involve a succession of courses eaten one at a time. A typical family meal starts with a soup, followed by vegetables and a meat dish and then a salad, cheese, and dessert. Wine is commonly served at meals. Children begin to drink wine during family dinners in their early teens, often drinking wine diluted with water.
Most daily food preparation is done by wives and mothers in family settings even if both spouses work full-time. The need to prepare wholesome meals that reflect traditional values is an increasing source of stress for working women who feel pressed for time.
Convenience foods are becoming more prevalent, and fast food is a growing trend. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Large family gatherings and dinner parties involve more elaborate food preparation and more courses than daily family meals. At such occasions, drink is more important. Wines complement the courses. Champagne often is served to mark ceremonial occasions and is drunk after the meal. This is followed by coffee and a digestif liqueur.
It is not uncommon for ceremonial meals to last three or more hours. In Normandy, a tradition that involves having a drink of calvados after each course further lengthens the meal.
Holidays are associated with special foods. Elaborate meals are served on Christmas Eve by Catholic families who attend midnight Mass. The ceremonial nature and symbolism of food are evident in rural wedding ceremonies. Often, mixtures of food and drink are presented to the wedding couple in a chamber pot in the early hours of the morning after the wedding.
These mixtures can include champagne and chocolate or savory soups with carrots and onion. These are ceremonial occasions, and each person who helps the family is given a portion of the pig. The "thirty glorious years" of expansion of industry after World War II ended with the oil crises of the s. Since then, the country has rebuilt its economy and has one of the four leading economies in Western Europe. France is also a major agricultural nation and is self-sufficient in this sector.
Agriculture now accounts for less than 3 percent of the GNP, however. The major agricultural crop is wheat. High unemployment has plagued the country since the s, particularly among youth.
The unemployment rate was almost 13 percent in Inclusion in the EU has had a major impact on the economy, opening some markets and restricting others. InFrance will convert from the franc to the euro for all financial transactions. After several decades of nationalization of major industries, France deregulated those sectors in the s, to create a freer market. Land Tenure and Property. Until the middle of the twentieth century, agriculture was dominated by small holdings and family farms.
Two factors have affected rural land holdings since World War II. There has been an acceleration of the rural exodus leading to a strong migration toward cities, along with a consolidation of farm lands that had been scattered through inheritance patterns. This was called le remembrement and was more successful in some regions than in others. There are many small businesses and shops on city streets, and street markets thrive in the major cities.
In the centers of towns, small shops and specialty boutiques abound. Prices are fixed in stores for the most part, but at markets there is still a lot of bargaining. The commercial services of rural villages have declined during the last twenty years, as a result of depopulation and the attraction of new chain stores.
Increasingly, the butchers, bakers, and grocers have closed shop, and people make purchases in small shopping markets or travel to the nearest city to buy less expensive goods. Industry historically was centered in the northeast and eastern part of the nation, primarily in Paris, Lille, and Lyon. This has changed with the penetration of industry into the hinterlands and the south.
The leading industries are steel, machinery, chemicals, automobiles, metallurgy, aeronautics, electronics, mining, and textiles. Tourism is a growing industry in the countryside.
Food processing and agribusiness are important to the national economy. The government controls several industrial sectors, including railroads, electricity, aircraft, and telecommunications. A move toward privatizing these industries has been under way since the early s. Although the country traditionally took a protectionist stance toward trade and did not play a major role in the world economy, this has changed with the opening of markets through the European Economic Community and the Common Market.
Foreign trade grew during the s, under de Gaulle, and by the mids, France was the fourth largest exporter in the world.
Most exports Men working at a vineyard in France.
French wine is a source of national pride and an important part of both simple and elaborate meals. During the economic crisis of the s, the balance of trade favored imports, but in recent years exports have grown. The major exports are manufactured goods, including cars and luxury items such as clothing, perfume, and jewelry.
Wheat and dairy products are also major exports. The country imports raw materials such as oil and agricultural products, as well as machinery, chemicals, and iron and steel products. Employment is categorized by the eight PCS professions and socioprofessional categories: While the nation had a large agricultural population well into the twentieth century, only 3 percent of the people now work in that sector, although 10 percent of the population works in either agriculture or agribusiness.
Unemployment almost 12 percent in is higher among women and youth. Labor unions are strong. The current thirty-nine-hour workweek will fall to thirty-five hours in Social Stratification Classes and Castes. France is a class-stratified society whose middle class did not develop significantly until the s. Historically, society was divided among the nobility, the bourgeoisiethe peasants, and the urban proletariat.
The French system was the basis for much of Karl Marx's analysis of class struggles during the nineteenth century. The dominant class now is referred to as the bourgeoisie, although this term is difficult to define. Primarily, this class is considered to be the group that controls education and industry. A major source of debate is the issue of social mobility for people of different social origins.
Statistics indicate that there is still a strong tendency for children to remain in the occupational class of their parents. For instance, inalmost 50 percent of the children of workers became workers; only 9 percent of them became elite workers.
Fifty-six percent of the children of elite workers became elite workers. The school system is blamed for the lack of social mobility. Symbols of Social Stratification. Social stratification has two main axes: The urban upper class generally has ties to provincial seats of power.
The bourgeoisie establish the major tenets of good taste and refinement, of being "civilized. Symbols of a higher class position include knowing not only about fine art but about the newest trends in avant-garde art, understanding and being able to purchase fine wines, and dressing with understatement while revealing refined aesthetic sensibilities.
Class consciousness is very strong. France operates under the constitution of the Fifth Republic, which was established in The government is highly centralized, although the act of decentralization transferred more power to the regions and communes. Paris is the capital city.
The administration of the governmental system is organized through the levels of nation, region, department, arrondissement, canton, and commune. The commune is the smallest administrative level.
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This system of political administration dates back to the French Revolution. The state controls several state-owned companies in the areas of transportation, energy, and communications. Thirty percent of the workforce is employed by the state.
The state bureaucracy is complex and is run by an administrative elite trained at the National School of Administration ENA. The executive branch includes the president and the prime minister. The president is elected for a seven-year term by popular vote. The prime minister is appointed by the president and serves as head of the government. In recent years, a form of political "cohabitation" has developed, in which the president and prime minister come from different political parties.
The prime minister selects the ministers and secretaries of state, with approval by the president. The twenty-two metropolitan regions, which recently received a formal role in government, are each composed of several departments. A region is headed by a regional prefect and served by elected regional council members who represent the departments.
The regional council elects a president of the council. The department is headed by a prefect, and each canton elects a council member to serve at that level.How Nations Flirt
Communes elect a mayor and a municipal council. There are a little over 36, communes, and their populations can range in size from under one thousand to that of a large city. The vast majority of communes are in the countryside. Leadership and Political Officials. France is politically divided between the right and the left. There are five major political parties. The Communist Party was formed in Political leaders rise to power by gaining election at the local level, and then accruing more political titles.
It is possible for a politician to hold more than one office at different levels simultaneously, and this is a common method for gaining political support. Election to office depends on social networks, as well as on the personal charisma of the politician. The concept of "legitimacy" is crucial; to be viewed as a legitimate candidate is to have local roots and a strong social network. A successful politician must make good use of symbolism and ritual in order to embody various ideals.
A high degree of formality is associated with political office, and interactions with elected officials require correct etiquette. One should, for instance, address a mayor as Monsieur or Madame le Mayor.
Social Problems and Control. The police are a noticeable presence, particularly in urban areas and transport centers such as airports and subway stations. Visibly armed, they have the right to stop any person to demand to see documents of identity. The police force is divided between those who work for the minister of the interior and those who work for the minister of defense gendarmes.
There is also a National Security Police force CRS that is called in during demonstrations and strikes, which occur frequently. An important form of political protest, demonstrations often disrupt urban streets and highways. Labor unions are strong, and striking workers regularly stop social services, such as trash pickup and public transportation, and access to public buildings, such as museums.
Major social problems include AIDS, homelessness, and terrorism. The rate of violent crimes such as homicide is low. Terrorist attacks and bombings occur randomly, if infrequently and were at their height most recently during the Gulf War. The National Security Police justify their strong military presence as a deterrent to terrorism.
The president is the commander in chief of the military, and the minister of defense reports directly to the president. France has an army, navy, and air force.
France was involved in several armed conflicts during the twentieth century. After the first and second world wars, it was involved in colonial wars in Algeria and Indochina.
The draft is being phased out and will disappear in Universal compulsory military service for a period of at least sixteen months has been mandatory for all eighteen-year-old males and marked an important rite of passage into adulthood. Social Welfare and Change Programs There is an elaborate social welfare program. The social security system was formed in It is funded not by the state but by employers and workers directly.
There are several plans, which vary with one's level of employment and professional status. A minimum level of income is assured for the unemployed and destitute under the RMI Revenue Minimum d'Insertinthe unemployment assistance payment that is paid for through taxation. Benefits of the social security system include family allowances paid per childinfant allowances for pregnant women and newborns, single-parent supplements, benefits for sickness and disability, and unemployment insurance.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations About half the people belong to a voluntary association, including political parties, and there areassociations. The Law of Associations regulates noneconomic activities such as sports clubs, cultural groups, and other clubs. There are clubs for immigrants, the elderly, youth, and leisure activities. Much of civic life is organized through associations. Peasant households traditionally had a strict gender division of labor Architectural view of Pierrefont Castle, a reminder of the wars that have punctuated French history.
Husband and wife generally worked together, sometimes participating in different tasks related to agricultural labor. The degree to which gender segregation in daily life was upheld varied by region. In general, women carried out domestic tasks of housekeeping, food preparation, and child care; however, they also were involved in farm labor, such as harvesting and tending young animals.
With the growth of industrialization, family farms involved much less cooperation between husband and wife in economic activities. A separation of the domestic sphere from the place of work and the growth of wage earning changed the household division of labor. Women worked outside the home as washerwomen, factory workers, and domestics. In bourgeois families in the nineteenth century, husbands controlled wealth and their wives were dependent on them, having limited autonomy in the raising of the children.
Today, almost half of all workers are female and the dual-career family is becoming the norm. Women continue to face inequalities in the job market, with lower wages than men for comparable work and more difficult career paths. Women are rare in the highest-paid professions and dominate in clerical work, social work, and primary teaching.
There have been proposals for a "maternal wage" that would compensate housewives for their labor. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The Napoleonic Code of denied power to women in marriage, and women did not gain the right to vote until Only in the s did wives gain the right to open bank accounts or work without the husband's permission.
The Badinter Law of established equal rights for women in marriage. The feminist movement has slowly made advances but continues to struggle. If you're interested in someone, maintain eye contact — if you aren't, don't. If you really aren't interested, then be very clear and tell him politely but firmly the hints that might work back home, won't work here. The Spanish have a reputation as romantic and passionate people.
If a woman shows too much interest too soon, she may scare a man away. In the Netherlands you might take a walk or go on a bike ride. It's also common for couples to keep the fact that they're an item to themselves. The date itself Unless you're going to be doing something sporty, dress up a little. Flip-flops, shorts or scruffy clothes in general tend not to make a good impression in fashion-conscious Europe. Smart casual wear is probably best. In France, a man may be late but don't take it personally — French men are notoriously bad timekeepers.
In Germany and Switzerland, however, punctuality is highly valued so if one of you rolls up late, your date will be off to a bad start. French and Spanish men may seem a little OTT, showering a woman with compliments. If this happens, don't panic. It doesn't mean he's necessarily a creep, as paying a compliment is a form of acknowledgement rather than flattery in those countries. So what you say may be taken at face value — and you shouldn't always take to heart what's said to you.
Whatever you do, don't get drunk. In the UK, drinking a vast amount of alcohol can be central in beginning a sexual relationship with someone.
But the rule almost everywhere else in Europe is: Who pays for your date? After the first date, most people would probably expect to go Dutch and not just in the Netherlands! To kiss or not to kiss.