Flair France 2011 - A Society Of "Extra-Lucids"

Launched in 2005, Ipsos Flair grew from a desire to combine the six types of expertise Ipsos offers (Marketing, Advertising, Media, Opinion, Customer Relations Management, Data Collection, Data Processing and Distribution), with a view to presenting a vision of society founded on an observation and interpretation of the behaviors, attitudes and opinions of consumer-citizens.

The author(s)

  • Dominique Lévy Ipsos, France
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The stance Ipsos Flair takes in relation to French society and the changes taking place is one — cherished by psychologists and by Freud in particular — of “benevolent
neutrality.”

Ipsos sees research findings as symptoms, whose analysis helps define a mapping of structuring and emerging trends.

From this point of view, 2010 deserved its title of “no limits year” and its slogan “passion destroyed becomes passion to destroy”…

Most of the standards that govern normal relations between individuals, institutions, authorities, etc. were smashed with incredible casualness and ease: the French soccer team refuse to train during the World Cup, looting and setting fire to cars accompany victory, likewise for the defeat of the Algerian team, urban riots break out in Grenoble or Saint-Aignan as reprisals for police actions, the “mass aperitifs” made popular by Facebook reinvent the codes of social drinking, and so on and so forth.

After the vocabulary of denial and euphemism, the vocabulary of dysfunction and restructuring are no longer enough. So new words must be invented, words associated with a different perception of law and order.

One recent example is the notion of “supra-legal compensation,” which came to light after all French employees were granted several tens of thousands of tax-free Euros, notably obtained following the sequestration of management and executives.

We look forward to the “extra-legal” arrangements to come, in other words those transactions that come into play beyond the handful of outdated agreements (Constitution, Decrees, Civil Code, Work Code, etc.) that have governed labor relations until now.

Every year, the “results crisis” brings to light a new facet and a new spasm: nostalgia, desire to believe, skepticism, detachment, transgression…

Their common point lies in the distinction made between the collective and the personal. The collective becomes the world one is subjected to, the outside world, consisting in obligations and rules (what used to be called courtesy and politeness, for example). The personal is the chosen, free, ad hoc world (which explains the success of the social networks, which operate on the principle of co-optation or exclusion).

In other words, every one of us is all alone. Primarily because the acceleration of time and speed in society has made the return of a new, legitimized authority even more unthinkable. Consider the case of the US Commander of Forces in Afghanistan who, believing he was speaking off the record, gave Rolling Stone something it assumed was on the record and thus published, leading to the General’s resignation. WikiLeaks has now abolished this distinction between off-record and on-record…

Next, because the most famous predictions for the future are foreclosed. “The Lonely Crowd” has been one of the best-selling sociology books since it was first published in 1950. At the time, author David Riesman anticipated a dead and buried society by the 2000s. With the social networks and “friends” made through the Internet and Twitter, we have gone from a society of One + Several to a society of Egos in Overdrive.

The collusion of these two trends is establishing a global society in which speed hinders action and confiscates memory, where the promotion of the ego quashes the desire for collective projects. So we must learn to live at ease within this uneasiness.

Riesman was right, in that he anticipated a change in post-war society, in other words a move from an inner-directed society to an other-directed society, one where individuals are no longer the product of their own history, but the product of what they know about others.

His analysis has become outdated however, because now we can see everything and know everything about others, including their most intimate thoughts, should they escape through Freudian slips.

The decisive factor is the over-exposure and thus the over-inflation of the Ego… The key lies in being able to move from one world to the other without losing too many feathers in the process, to be as much at ease as you possibly can within the general sense of uneasiness, and to fare even better for claiming to be completely “lucid” about everything that is happening, the rules and the challenges.

That’s the editorial approach taken by Ipsos Flair 2011. The title “Société of extralucids” plays on the dual meaning of the French term “extralucide” (literally “extra lucid” and also “clairvoyant.”) We explore how the French, disconnected from the Authorities, now regard them as a spectacle and devote their time elsewhere, wherever they can get the biggest return on investment, wherever they can live most comfortably.

In other words, bracing themselves and pushing back in some cases, becoming smarter and more mobile in others, but always with the same objective: staying at ease in a world of increasing uneasiness.

The author(s)

  • Dominique Lévy Ipsos, France

Society