The Another

    Macron, sociologists and the middle class: A secret Elysée luncheon



    Emmanuel Macron in Roubaix, France, on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

    Emmanuel Macron is looking sensors. Two weeks after renewing ties with the economists who supported him in his 2017 electoral conquest, the French president hosted a “luncheon with sociologists” at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday, May 23, The world has learned. That day, four researchers took their seats in the Salon des Ambassadeurs, where cabinet meetings are usually held every Wednesday: Jean Viard, a sociologist close to Macron and a research director at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); Philippe Moati, an economics professor who studied the Yellow Vests protest movement; Jérôme Fourquet, the director of opinion polling at IFOP; and Jean-Laurent Cassely, a journalist who co-authored a book with Fourquet . The meeting was confidential and participants were asked to hand over their phones upon arrival. “This was not intended to be the subject of a photo inParis Match ,” said Cassely, “Nor of an article inThe world.

    In front of each plate, a card listed the agenda: “Society, consumption, lifestyles.” Macron began: “Talk to me about societal transformations,” he asked them. After reforming the pensions system by forcing his bill through Parliament earlier this year, the president is looking to win back public opinion. Better late than never, thought the guests, who were anxious to [that buys from] portray “the France [that occupied] Amazon and [during the Yellow Vests protests]roundabouts ,” in the words of one attendee. “People want to regain power over time,” said Viard,

    “The problem is not the quantity of work, but the lack of freedom to choose.” Macron and his chief of staff Alexis Kohler took notes. According to many Macron supporters, if the French are reluctant to work longer, it is because of a dulled sense of effort and a loss of civic spirit.

    “Time once belonged to God, then to work. Today, it belongs to the individual,” Viard said, adding that in the land of paid time off and the 35-hour work week, political power should “build on this culture rather than bypass it and try to copy German industrial culture.” French people “want to regain control over their lives,” said Fourquet, referring to slogans used in demonstrations against the pension reform, such as: “He’s robbing us of two years of life.” (The reform lifted the retirement age from 62 to 64.) At a time when working from home is exacerbating social and regional divides, Fourquet, the author of The French Archipelago

    (“The French Archipelago”), suggests that Macron currency has a compensation scheme for employees trapped in rigid working hours. Hardly convinced that there is an irreversible trend, the French president objected that his neighbors in his Le Touquet, northern France (where Macron and his wife own a house), are moving back to Paris after settling there during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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