control, dictatorship, leverage

control, power, capacity

Corrupt, Powerful, Greedy

discipline, necessity, leadership

dominant, police, government

freedom, equality, right

government, dictatorship, control

government, responsibility, obligation

old, wise, conservative

police, discipline, power

Police, police car, ticket

police, respect,

responsible, respectful, smile

rules/laws, discipline, responsibility

security, power, police

totalitarian, police, violence

devoir, respecter, règle

garder, dictateur, décider

indispensable, abus, oppressante

le pouvoir

nécessaire, redoutée, enjeu électoral

ordre, règlement, obéir

parentale, gouvernementale, nécessaire

parents, police, profs, sanctions

police, parents, gouvernement

police, parents, profs

police, pouvoir, sanctions

Pouvoir, influence

sévérité, restriction, règle, encadrement


There were several things I found interesting as a whole about the answers given to these questions.

I want to begin with the personification of authority as "The Man" by the Am. I don't know historically where this comes from, but it definitely is prevalent, and sort of a way of putting blame to the "person-in-charge." This seems slightly ironic given the fact that there is no one person really in charge of everything, as Am like to really believe that their people have the power. Interestingly, the Fr. answers overwhelmingly mentioned rules, laws, sanctions, and supervision. I think it safe to assume that the Fr. perceive authority more like a rule-book than a person in charge. This seems to me a very fundamental difference in attitude. As an American then, I would feel less in charge of my own self if I had the idea of there being "the Man" in charge of everything: I would be less inclined to take matters into my own hands; I would be more inclined to pass blame. If instead, I only personified authority as a rule-book or behavioral code, then I feel I would be more free to be my own voice of authority. In this sense, I would have a greater social and moral responsibilty to be an example of a good citizen.


I want to continue with the 4-5 mentions of parents as authority figures in the Fr. answers as opposed to the single mention within the Am. answers. Is it safe to assume that parents are more respected as authority figures in Fr.? That is, I feel that, especially with the discipline and behavorial issues with kids in Am nowadays, parents have sort of stepped down as authority figures in Am. and taken the roles of peers to their children. This might then explain why only one Am thought of their parents when the word authority was read.


Finally, I want to end with what I thought was a little bit ironic. That is, the more limited Am government was mentioned more as an authority figure (with a connotation of imposing rules) than the less limited Fr. government. Additionally, the idea of abuse of authority was only found in the Fr. answers, which leads me to believe that the Am don't consider "big" government such a bad thing.

Bonjour Eduardo,


ce que tu dis est intéressant: c'est peut-être parce que les français sont très cartésiens et font beaucoup de lois (parfois inutiles ou non appliquées), que tu vois cette différence; je pense aussi que les américains voient plus dans l'autorité un frein à leur liberté d'entreprendre.

En ce qui concerne les parents et l'autorité parentale, es-tu en train de nous dire que les parents américains ont démissionné face à leurs enfants? C'est aussi une tendance ici; j'ai lu un article dans la presse qui disait que les parents français étaient 50% à se sentir submergés par les enfants, 25% à être stressés par l'éducation de leurs enfants.

Je pense que l'autorité parentale n'est pas à mettre dans la même catégorie que celle de la police ou du gouvernement, elle est plus positive.



j'ai vu que le terme "totalitarian" etait apparu pour définir l'autorité !

Je ne vois pas trop le rapport, pourriez-vous me l'expliquer !

Charlotte Houdusse


I understand what you mean about parents not being in the same category as the police or government. If I may clarify, I meant that maybe they (children) have more respect for them (parents) than here (in the US). However, you mention that article you read and how parents nowadays are having trouble raising their children as well...well, maybe it is a trend found in many developed countries. Or maybe it has always existed, but the point I wanted to make is that it was an answer that was mentioned many more times by the Fr than the Am students.

Why do you say that many laws are silly or seem to not be applicable? Could you give me a few examples? I'm curious....





Pour Eduardo:


je suis d'accord avec Clément; on dit quelquefois que les français passe leur temps à inventer des lois qui ne sont jamais appliquées ensuite. Par exemple, j'ai appris avec une prof l'an dernier que certaines lois anciennes existaient toujours et n'étaient plus appliquées.


J'ai trouvé un site intéressant pour vous:

J'espère que cela pourra vous aider à nous comprendre, même si nous, on ne se comprend pas toujours




Thank you for the link. It was an interesting read (from what I could understand). I guess, if I think about it, the Americans also have very silly laws, and many of them. The thing is, one never really thinks about it.

In Cambridge, I think, it is supposed to be a one dollar fine for "jay-walking". (Jay-walking is when one crosses the street, but not at an intersection where they're supposed to cross it). But everyone does it all the time, and I've not heard of a person getting fined at all.

I think this shows one of the negatives of the bureaucracy...the fact that silly laws can be passed because the system allows such ineptitudes.

And as you say, its hard to understand oneself as well.

bonjour Eduardo,


je viens de lire tous tes commentaires et je rejoins ce que disais clément sur l'autorité des parents, elle n'est je pense pas à mettre dans le même panier que celle de la police.

tu disais qu'au états-unis les jeunes étaient moins respectueux envers leur parents qu'en France? pourquoi penses-tu cela? Tu as une vision plus positive des jeunes français que des jeunes Américains sur ce point de vue là?

Vous avez beaucoup parlez des lois, est-ce que pour vous, elles prennent une places très importantes dans votre société? Est-ce que tu te sens envahie par toutes ces lois et contrôlés en permanence par la police?


merci beaucoup Edouardo