arrogance, superiority, snobs

beautiful, proper, awesome

boat, french, country club

class; money; power

country clubs, east coast, horses

Educated, awesome, excellence

exceptional, excellent,

Hollywood, Fame, Money

intelligent, wealthy, greedy

misunderstood, relative, scrutinized

powerful, arrogant, wealthy

powerful, wealthy, narcissistic

prestigious, selective, exclusive

prime, power, top

reward, success, rich

rich, knowledge, respect

rich, powerful, revered

rich, snob, powerful

snob, clique, exclusionary

snobby, rich, controlling

snobs, rich, ownership, executive

stars, royal families, last names.

Status, Top, small dominant group

Ivy League
boarding school

top, best, ideal

Uncaring, unthinking, karma

unnecessary, snobby, false

upperclass, expensive, highbrow

wealth, power, influence

bougeoisie, l'ENA


discrimination, dû à la recherche d'individus spéciaux, sacrifice



gagnant, meilleur

grandes écoles, meilleur

groupe, intelligence

Haut niveau d'études.

heureux, dans la paix, la joie


intelligence, pouvoir, respect, argent

intelligent, excellent, supérieur

les meilleurs, hauts placés

meilleur, douée, toujours plus

Meilleur; le haut

minorité, supérieur, ENA

performance, minorité, travail, but

plus formée, discrimination dans certain cas


Premier, Qualité, Wall Street, Multinationales

réussite, pouvoir, argent

riche/bourges. études importantes.

Social, meilleurs

sportive, étude, riche

superieur, intelligent, école


It is curious how the Americans expressed an overall marked disdain for the "elite," and towards those considered to belong to it.  Often, they referred to the 'elite' with such negative words as 'arrogance,' 'haughtiness,' 'greed,' and 'snobbery.'  The French, for their part, at times mentioned the discrimination that accompanies the existence of an elite, but seemed more prone to view the elite in a positive light.  For example, they speak of the elite as not only having power and wealth, but as having intelligence and influece.  In my perception, the Americans use more materialistic standards to measure the status of people, immediately associating the word 'elite' with financial abundance.  Why is it that the French have more comprehensive standards when it comes judging a person's worth in society?  Have I interpreted the responses correctly, or am I reading a different connotation than that which is implied by the French words?

As evidence to the broader definition of 'elite' that the French seem to have, I wish to cite their use of words such as 'etude,' 'plus formee,' 'intelligent,' etc.

(Also, pardon my lack of accents: this is not my computer and I don't know how to use them here.)

The extent to which French and American perceptions diverge on exactly what it means to be "elite" is quite fascinating.  It seems that the French view the elite as a distinguished cadre of men and women endowed with innate gifts which have been cultivated through rigorous schooling, and multiplied several fold.  In the eyes of the French, the elite exude excellence and superiority, (note how many students used the word "best" or "top" to describe them) and are thus worthy of respect and regard from the society in which they live, and to which they so richly contribute. 

The American perception of the word could not be more sharply contrasting.  In the United States - "elitism" has a decidedly negative connotation - it suggests rank and station, and a certain verticality which does not fit within the American egalitarian ideal.  I would think that social and historical context would play a large role in determining the degree of acceptance that the people of any nation would have for its ruling or owning class.  While I would think that Americans' disdain for social hierarchy would date back to their rejection of monarchy and colonial rule in the 18th century, that doesn't quite solve this riddle - because the French quite famously and successfully revolted against the same principles at just about the same time.  So why, then, might our views contrast now?  I would be quite interested in hearing your views on this! 

It seems that the French students view elitism much more as something that is earned through hard work, while many Americans considered it to be something that may not be deserved.  Many responses from the French cite 'intelligence', while many more Americans used 'snobby' and 'rich'.  One French student even said that elitism was a goal in life, while no Americans said that.  I think this shows that elitism simply has a much more negative connotation in America.  It could also mean that excellence is not valued in America as much as in France.

I think it makes sense that the French students view elitism in a positive or neutral light where as the Americans thought of it more negatively. Americans are very proud of the fact that they live in a "land of opportunity" and that through hard work and a little bit of luck you can do anything. The idea of a self-made man is greatly celebrated in the states. So it makes sense that most people are opposed to the idea of an elite who gets everything handed to him on a silver platter just because he was born to the "right" family. 

C'est vrai qu'il se dégage des réponses Américaines un aspect plus négative de l'hélitisme que pour nous les français, je pense que cela vient du fait que même si nous considérons "les hélites" comme une classe à part, nous somme obliger de reconnaître que ce sont en France les personnes qui ont un accès plus facile aux études supérieur, aux places importantes et à hautes responsabilités... Car ils ont la chance d'avoir généralement des parents qui assurent financièrement, et c'est en cela que peut s'exercer une certaine fascination pour ces personnes.

Maintenant je trouve que c'est un monde bien à part et qu'ils sont parfois en trop grand décalage avec nous, et je préfére avoir ma vision du monde que la leur.

 salut, pour nous en Afrique élite a une connotation positive car cela constitue un espoir de développement de notre continent mais ce qui est domage c'est la grande fuite des cervaux qui est un frein à ce développement tant espéré...


(So sorry I couldn't include the accents - this keyboard does not offer that option!)

It is interesting that in France the concepts of elitism and education are so closely linked.  I wonder, is that connection one-way only?  Or does one imply the other?  I understand that well-regarded families are able to send their children to the best schools, but is it true, also, that very bright, but poor, students who are accepted at top schools are looked upon with the same fascination and regard with which many view their wealthier classmates?  Does brilliance and exposure to a very high standard of education qualify one as an elite in French society?  Are there many scholarships to allow poorer students access to top schools?



That is an interesting concept - do you think that is true of the entire continent?  Or just of particular countries?  For instance, do you think perceptions of "the elite" would be different in places like Kenya or Nigeria, in which the "ruling class" tends to have a particular tribal affiliation, than they might be in a place like South Africa, where that might not be as much the case?  Where are you from?  Where do most immigrants in France come from?  Tunisia and Morocco?  Or elsewhere? 

I live in the Caribbean, and we also find ourselves struggling with brain drain.  Most from my island get an education and settle either in Canada or the States.  Do most people from your country emigrate to France?  If not, where do they go?


salut,ma conception de l'élite je pense qu'elle est generale car c'est le continent africain qui en a besoin et pas quelques pays,dans les pays ou la conception est différente comme par exemple le Kenya et le Nigeria(je ne maitrise pas ces pays) je pense que c'est l'égoisme des hommes qui fait cela.De plus c'est un thème très important en Afrique donc je pense qu'on peut généraliser. Les immigrants en France je ne sais pas trop mais je remarque qu'il ya bocoup de maghrébien,les sénégalais aussi sont un peu nombreux et il ya aussi des gabonais car au pays ils ne seraient pas considérés à leur juste valeur intellectuelle.Face à cela je dis que se sont les autorités africaines qui sont à l'origine de la fuite des cervaux du continent. Je suis mieux placé pour te parler du GABON car c'est la première fois que je viens en france et sa fait juste 1 mois dans le cadre des études. les Gabonais immigrent plus en france je crois.