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Socio - cultural analysis - metropolitan france


The purpose of this paper is to understand the social and cultural aspects which can influence the customer behaviour and trend. The feasibility and the viability of our business will depend on it. Our study

Brief discussion of the country's relevant history

Geographical setting

France is constituted by The Metropolitan France (including Corsica Island in Mediterranean Sea), French Guiana (Northern South America), Guadeloupe, Martinique (Caribbean Sea)and Réunion (Indian Ocean-Southern Africa). For this research we will particularly focus on France Metropolitan as our objective is first exporting our products there (CIA, 2009).


France is part of the continent of Europe. It is surrounded by The Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay and the English Channel) and Mediterranean Sea; boarded by Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. With an ear of 551 500 square kilometers, France is the largest West European Nation. The country is generally flat particularly in the west and north. In the south and east of the country there two main mountains, one is the Pyrénées which form a frontier all along of Spain and France territories, and the other one is the Alps which with its highest Europe's peak "The Mont Blanc". Le latter constitutes a separation between France from Switzerland and Italy.


The climate is defined by four distinctive seasons. It is generally cold in winter from November to February the temperature could breaks out minus 3 C° in cities as Paris. Summer is generally cool and fresh the temperature in July and august is usually around 20 C° and the rain is very few.
The climate is quite deferent from the North to the South. The deference of temperature could vary from 5 to 10 C°. In the mountain region due to the high elevation and precipitation it is usually very cold in winter and the temperature could fall under minus 10 C°. In the South, the Mediterranean climate prevails and it is characterized by hot-dry summer and mild-humid winter with few rains during the entire year. Marseilles which is the second largest city in France, the sun shines for over 4 months and the rain falls around 2 months a year. - current issues:

Social Institutions


A survey done by the SOFRES entitled "The New Family" (Paris June 4th 1994) relative to the definition of the notion of family. It has revealed that 85 percent of respondents had answered that "The definition of a true family required the presence of one or more children" (François de Singly & Jacques Cormaille, 1997). According to the study from the historian Emmanuel Todd, the European Community has four types of family exogamy identity which are "Exogamy Community", "Family Stock", "Egalitarian Nuclear Family" and "Absolute Nuclear Family". France seems to gather these four types together with a dominant in two categories Egalitarian Nuclear particularly in the north and Family Stock concentrated in the south of France. This notion of Exogamy and Monogamy Family has come from the fact that the Roman Catholic Church had banned the endogamy marriage after the pandemic of Cholera and the pest which appeared in the VIII century. This rule would be clearly respected only in XII century (Europolycentrique Website, 2009). The emergence of the individualism and the evolution of the sexual equality after the Second World War would result on the break-up of family creating single parent-family (monoparentale) and new family reconstituted. In 1986, the monoparental family represented 1.5 million of children living alone with one parent. 80 percent were women. This number is constantly increasing every year by 1.2 %. (Sofres Institute Website, 2009)

Medynski T. (2008), Pour Une Europe Federale Policentrique,Retrieved on 21 August 2009 from

Education system

The literacy rate in France represents 99 percent. Thanks to the King Charlemagne named as well Charles Le Grand, in VIII century has ordered the obligation of education for everybody. He had set up the Public education in addition to the existing catholic education which was provided only to certain social classes. Therefore the public sector is very common in France whereas Catholic sector constitutes mainly a private education.
The education structure is divided into three levels: The Primary, the Secondary and the Tertiary High school education

The primary education includes the pre-school which start from the age of 3 years to 5 years child old and primary school which is compulsory for children from 6 to 10 years old covers three levels: "Cours Primaire"- CP, "Cours élémentaire" CE1/CE2 and "Cours Moyen" CM1/CM2.

It is divided in two stages. One is called "Collège" which represent four year education from the 6th "Sixième" to 3th "Troisième". After the 3th, students "Collégiens" have to pass the "Brevet des Collèges" degree which certifies their acquisition of general knowledge. Then, depending on their aim, ability and marks they can choose two options of specialization: Professional or General Colleges "Lycée" which prepare them to the examination of "Baccalauréat" at the age of 18 years.

Depending of the type of Baccalauréat, student can go for Univerty of Sciences, Medecine, Languages Etc...or for Engineering Schools, Business School, and Administration School which prepare them to many levels of Diplôma. The duration of theses specialization is minimum two years of study to eight year for an "Doctorat" similar to the PHD Degree.

Political System

France is known as the French Republic with three main principles "Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité" which means Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The French Government is aegis under the Constitution and the Fifth Republic.
Political parties:
There are several political parties but only eight mains parties are largely represented and run for the vote of the President election in 2007. There are UMP, URP, PS, PCF, FN, LCR, CPNT (Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Tradition), Partis Verts.
At the last presidential election on 6th Mai 2009, Mr. Nicolas Sarcozi from the URP parties was elected President of The French Republic with 53.06 % of voices against Miss. Segolene Royal from the PS (Socialist parties) who had received 46.94 % of voices. During the election campaign, the Verts (Green) and CPNT have attracted e great interest for their Green concerns program comparing to communism parties which have lose their notoriety by 3%. This tendency shows the awareness of French people towards the environment. Mr. N. Sarkozi has come with new policies regarding the fiscal norms in favour of individuals and firms; environment regulation; trades agreements; Social welfare and education program.
Political Structure:
The French Constitution of October 4th 1958 determines the structure of the government and the institutional references for the Fifth Republic which institutes all current political schemes. Regarding the President mandate, he or she is elected for a period of five years by direct universal suffrage. He appoints his Prime Ministers after the agreement of the Parliament. Together, they will select the rest of the ministers.

The Legal System:

The constitution has divided the power of the national government into three branches: The "executive", the "legislative" and the "judicial" functions. The judicial branch is divided into four jurisdictions: The Civil court based on the Civil law and the Criminal law under the Napoleonic Code; the Administrative Tribunal based on the Administrative Code, the Tribunal of Commerce based on the Code of Commerce and the Prud'Homme (the Industrial Tribunal) based on the Labor Code. Each jurisdiction has its own organization. We will focus on the Commerce Court as our purpose is the exportation of goods into France. Before January 2009, there were in total 191 Courts of Commerce. Today, the number has felt into 135 due to the restructuration of the entire organization of the judicial system done by Rachida Dati, the Minister of justice in 2008. The Court of Commerce is usually divided into several Chambers settled up by three non-professional judges who usually entrepreneurs elected by their peers for a period of four years. The President of the Chamber is elected by the present judges. He has to have at least six year experience as Commerce court judge to be eligible. In 1999, the entire Commerce Court had received a severe critic for a lack of transparency in their appreciation and decision and as well in their knowledge and training relative to law study in general. So far the reform of the system is in progress. (Ministère de Justice Website, 2009)

Social Organization

After the Second World War, a new style of social organization has appeared. Many families had suffered from the consequence of the war. Loosing husband, women were bound to be more autonomous going to work in factories. Thus, women labor had taken an important part for the rebuilding of the country and the economic growth. This attitude would have an effect on the lifestyle and would change the social structure. Three mains distinctive classes have formed: The upper class is represented by influential business entrepreneurs of big companies such as L'Oréal, LVMH group. It includes as well politicians and rich families. The "White-collar" comprising senior executives and those with high income of companies constitutes the most the second class called the "Middle class". And finally the third class, the "lower Class" which is the largest including many categories: The "Blue-Collar" are those who work in industries of service and manufacturing at the operation level of the hierarchy; the unemployment which constituted nearly 10 percent of the population and the third category are those people with low income earning the minimum of the salary "SMIC" (Salaire Minimum Interprofessionnel de Croissance) and the "RMI" (Revenue Minimum Interprofessionnel).

Business Customs and Practices

The main objective of the government is to create job. In 1998, le legislation has reduced the working time per week, passing from 39 to 35 hours. But in exchange it allowed more flexibility regarding the organization and management of the labor. Furthermore, subsidizes are provided to business entrepreneurs particularly for small size organization.

Religion and aesthetics

Religion and other belief systems.

First of all, in France religion is seen as a private sphere where the Constitution guaranties the religious freedom strongly protects citizen from dangerous sects harmful to one self liberty. It is a country highly close to the concept of secularity. In France, 63% of people see themselves as Catholic and another 30% consider themselves as atheist. (bonjourlafrance, 2009). However some of the religions are represented by official institutions:

Overall the involvement of religion in social life, discussions is not seen unless it is taken in a very lightly and delicately manner. Numerous numbers of cults are present in France more or less powerful or influential. A list of those is given in the appendix 1.

B. Aesthetics

If we start from the 20th century, Paris was considered as heart of the art fraternity. The memorable names are Spaniard Pablo Picasso, the Russian Wassily Kandinsky, the Romanian Constantin Brancusi and so on. The dominant arts at that period were expressionism, impressionism, cubism and surrealism.

Living conditions.

Diet and nutrition.

The French have largely abandoned the traditional raw food, which weight in the food went in volume by 23.1% in 1960 to 9.5% in 2001. The consumption of bread decreased in value by 26 points between 1960 (index 100) and 2001. Furthermore, the consumption of potatoes decreased, again in value of 17 points during that same period. The individual consumption of sugar (unprocessed) has gone down by 3.1% since 1971. This massive reduction benefits to processed food. The ultra-fresh (yoghurt, cheese, dairy desserts) and cheese are among the top ten foods most consumed in France. Now, French people eat 15 times more yoghurt and dairy desserts than in the early 60s. These products take an important part of the dessert. As far as the cheese is concerned, it has been always appreciated too. The consumption, volume per person has been multiplied by 3.4 since 1960. Regarding meat products, red meat - mainly beef - is something of a fallen star. After stagnating, its consumption has been declining since 1987. The weight of red meat increased from 11.2% in 1960 to 6.6% in 2001. It is true that the various health crises have not helped the situation. The share of beef decreased significantly from 10% in 1960 to 5.4% in 2001. This erasure benefits meats with volumes in the power of the French, from 5.9% in 1960 to 11.7% in 2001 and to a lesser extent, poultry 3.8% in 1960 and 5.7% in 2001. Fresh meat was consumed by 8 to 10 homes, two to three times a week. The frozen meat is consumed more occasionally, about once a month. In absolute terms, expenditures on food consumption continue to rise: 3.2% annual average. The consumption volume also increases in annual average of 2.3%. Food remains, after housing (24%) and transport (15.4%), one of the first items of expenditure (Cliclait, 2009).

In a very French typical meal where some guests are invited there will be some few distinct steps:

For day to day bases, the aperitif of the cheese part will be skipped (French Food and Cook, 2008). However, compare to many other western countries, French population figures in the lower cardiac disease rate. Some research has given the consumption of red wines as a reason to the decline in cholesterol (Discover France, 2009).

B. Housing.

There are many various kind and styles of property in France:

French are mainly urban but they reinvest in rural areas, particularly around urban areas, where they seek a better living environment without too much away from city services. The current conditions of the French property market make many cautious buyers. The price decline nationally was announced at around 3%. But structurally, demand is always higher than supply. Today there are mainly a wait-market participants but no frank reversal (Chercheur Immobilier, 2009).
The preference for individual housing, which contributes to the loosening of cities, is driven by property prices lower than in surrounding downtown but also by the attractiveness of the country (Institut Francais de l'environnement, 2006).

C. Clothing.

There is not any national dress in France; it is more about regional dresses and which are rarely worn in some festivals or special days. As far as the dress code in the workplace, if there is not compulsory dress code, staff is free to wear whatever he wants. However, in a corporate level, western formals are required: suits, tie, formal shirts and pants, formals skirts. At the same time, we must keep in mind that the formal is not a must in every firm, it varies from the culture that each has (Le Figaro, 2009).

D. Recreation, sports and other leisure activities.

70% of French believe that that they have more free time than earlier. This range of extra time gives way to great cultural activities and leisure. However, the constant technological innovations, new modes of access and dissemination of cultural products cause significant changes in consumption patterns and choices made by the French in this area. It is therefore essential for the market of culture and sport to understand the continuously changing needs of consumers (TNS Sofres, 2009).
If markets music and video experience a contraction, respectively, with significant decreases of 16% and 6%, the book is doing a little better with - 2% and 38 minutes of reading per day. It remains the most common cultural belonging in France with an average of 156 books per household and 39% which have more than 100.
Generally, the use of free time each see French upheaval brought by the rapid penetration of the Internet becomes pervasive, just like television. Now, France has 60% of its population connected to the Internet, and for 94% of them, it is broadband. These figures suggest that television has not finished being worried (, 2009).
The increased leisure time generates new behaviour (increased activity of DIY, gardening and decorating), the cocooning trend of the place makes life even more essential (TNS Sofres, 2009).

E. Social security.

The social security system is obligatory and it takes in concern retirement, unemployment and national health. Contributions to the different schemes are taken care by the firms, workforce and professionals. As an expatriate, paid by the company in France, the process will be done by the firm and the expatriate has to put in and check for eligibility such as a French national. It become even more complex, for people on a temporary assignment where the company have take care of the formalities if there are any social security agreements between the home country and the host, otherwise a registration in the local security office is required.


The official language is French with some regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish) which are losing their usage (Cia World Factbook, 2009).