If you went to France once, you perhaps had the "chance" to see one of the most typical social attitude of the French people: strike and demonstration. You can have a look at this specific social contest in almost all big cities, mostly in Paris of course, but also other main
If you went to France once, you perhaps had the “chance” to see one of the most typical social attitude of the French people: strike and demonstration. You can have a look at this specific social contest in almost all big cities, mostly in Paris of course, but also other main
Why is strike and demonstration so popular in France?
First, there’s something in the French contestation culture, and all along the history, the French people always made big popular riots and revolutions, starting from the big French revolution of 1789, followed by some major revolutions in the 19th century (1830, 1848, 1871) and big social contest moments in the 20th century like the summer 1936 (the “Front Populaire” political experience) and the big student and workers uprise of Mai 1968 (and actually it’s the 40th anniversary of this uprise). So, uprise, strike, demonstration and revolutionary spirit of the people is something in the social French culture and all the pupils in the school are taught with the glorious moments of the revolutionary spirit in the French history from their youngest age.
Secondly, the political-social mood of the last 20 years is very unstable in France, and almost every government is trying to take some major decisions to reform the social and labor system, saying that it is to old and costs a lot of money to the state, etc… but the decisions are always taken without any advice, discussion or conciliation with the workers unions. Mostly, the reform decision is taken, then there are a few discussions/negotiations with the unions, but nothing will be changed at the reform, all is done and the discussion is useless, so the only protest possible for the unions and workers is to make a strike and demonstrate to hope that it will change something. Sometimes it works and the government goes back, but sometimes the reform is made against the protest.
Yet, why is this theme so interesting for a location? Because the demonstrations are a very great and spectacular moment in a city, with a lot of people protesting, singing, walking through the streets with colorful flags and slogans. For a Lomographer, it’s a fantastic moment to take pictures of a lot of people, full in the action of a social protest, and interesting too is to see the people in the demonstration, that means on the street, and the spectators, standing on the sidewalk (or staring from their window) and looking at the protest, sometimes with sympathy (and some leave the sidewalk to come in the protest!) and other looking frightened by this noise or criticizing against the demonstration and strike. You can really feel the social mood of France in these moments, with all the contradictions and problems of the actual economic situation of the country.
So, if you hear a big noise in the streets, there’s a protest, and don’t be afraid, most of the time it’s very pacific, with people of every age, and generally it’s a very popular and happy mood in the protest, you’ll be acclaimed if you join, and then you can try to discuss with the people, understand their situation and problems and learning something more about France you never learn in the touristic guides.