Paris versus regions.
France of metropolises versus peripheral France.
Urban France versus rural France.
These territorial oppositions are regularly invoked to explain the French society’s woes and divides. The context is one pervaded by a strong sense of inequality and injustice, and by the fear of being downgraded. In 20 years, France’s social and spatial structure has changed. Jobs are more and more concentrated in the heart of metropolitan areas, while housing is increasingly clustered in peri-urban areas. Some French people have been able to benefit from these recent societal developments, while others have felt left out. This social distress has significantly impacted the French society.
The 2019 Barometer of Territories, led by Elabe and Institut Montaigne, analyzes the impact of these divides on the French social cohesion. By interviewing over 10,000 people, we sought to understand they key factors that sparked these divides: what role has geography played? What about socio-economic factors? What is the relationship between the French and their territories? Are the latter places in which they can fully thrive and flourish, or on the contrary a space that restrains them?
The conclusions of our Barometer sketch a portrait of the French people of today, and signal an original paradox: they share a widespread feeling of private happiness, but the latter is struck by a sense of inequality and injustice. These feelings are also modulated by the relationship the French have with their territory and their mobility, the latter being either imposed or chosen. Thus emerges the image of a France more fragmented than shattered.
"The Barometer of Territories reveals that social divides are more decisive than territorial divides in understanding the life course of French people. These social divides the French society into four key categories of people, who coexist and come across each other quite widely within the same territories. Thus several faces of France appear. Yet these different faces express a common attachment to their country and, through this attachment, perhaps the aspiration to or the hope for a common destiny."
"The Barometer of Territories provides a new perspective on the dynamics at stake in our society, particularly at a time when the Yellow Vests movement is taking place. It describes a happy French society, more attached to its country than to its territories, but struck by a feeling of injustice. The latter can only be resolved by significant work coming from public authorities."