America, Air, Broken Chains

America, independence, liberation

America, liberty, right

america, marines, birds

boston, slavery, freedom trail

choice, opportunity, happiness

Declaration of Independence, Declaration of the Rights of Man, Natural rights

Expensive, necessary, important

happiness, fulfillment, success

independence, rights, choice, speech

liberty, civil rights

liberty, degrees of freedom, speech

liberty, equality, revolution

liberty, fairness, free will

liberty, flag, wild

liberty, independence, opportunity

liberty, revolution,

liberty, rights, independence

liberty, space, anarchy

right, important, good

rights, thoughts, happiness

U.S. constitution, bill of rights, tea party

égalité, fraternité, constitution

égalité, fraternité, devise

égalité, fraternité, France

égalité, fraternité, liberté d'expression

égalité, fraternité, prison

égalité, fraternité, vélib'

bonheur, mentalité, agréable

choix, droit

Constitution, Droits, Devoirs

devise, vie, voyage

Droit, difficile, théorique

droits, devoirs, égalité

essentielle, nécessaire, individuelle, droit

Légèreté, objectif, bonheur

lutte, droit, penser

oiseaux , choix

Statue, bonheur, états- unis

Statue, voyage

Volonté, sensation, besoin

voyage, temps, mer


I think the associations with the word 'Freedom' are very similar in the U.S. and France. People in both countries associate freedom with things like equality and rights. However, it seems that people in the U.S. also associate freedom with independence (both personal and as a country), whereas the French seem to associate freedom with brotherhood. That's a big difference between the two countries. Why is that?

There's a lot of consistency in this set of respondants!  The words that come to mind when thinking about Freedom are the words that are serve as the corner stones of our respective countries.  A typical American response was "liberty" which is a classic idea in the U.S. and engrained into our heads with the tribute of the Statue of Liberty (**Thanks to France).  In France, the national moto is "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" which explains why "liberté" is associated with the other 2 ideals.  It's interesting that the "mission statements", per se, of our countries have so much influence over our definition of Freedom.

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La liberté et un grand mot, je suis complètement d'accord avec ceux qui disent que la liberté et un droit, et je trouve marrant que la représentation de la liberté chez les américains et associé aux Etats-unis, et également chez les français c'est associé à la devise de la république française, et bien NON, chers amis, la liberté et un droits qui existe guère dans vos pays, seuls les américains et les français qui se bénéficie de ce droits chez eux, mais il manque la notion de l'acceptation de l'autre, et l'acceptation de la différence ethnique et culturelle des gens, cela n'est pas un défaut, au contraire je trouve que  notre différence enrichit la culture humaine, qu'en pensez-vous?

I totally agree with Mai's statement. Our differences do enrich our 'gobal' culture. However, as Mai mentioned, it is not by default that we accept and have a certain respect for other cultures. I think that this acceptance is definitely still lacking to some extent in some regions in the U.S., despite the fact that the U.S. is know as the 'melting-pot'. For example, there are still a large number of white Americans in the rural south that have no acceptance for any kind of diversity (be it African-American, Hispanic, or another race). I'm sure there are examples like this in France as well. However, I also think that we, as a society, have made huge strides in accepting differences, especially when one compares today's society with that of 150 years ago (and that's not just with respect to race, but also other things).

On another note, I think this discussion about acceptance of differences begs a totally different question. I do think that acceptance of differences is an important part to freedom; however, is it really the most important part?

To answer Sven's question, I don't think freedom has much to do with the "acceptance of differences." Rather, I associate freedom with a universal right. Then, of course, the next question is: "What is a universal right?" Or rather, what is the universal right. The word "universal" is extremely controversial in that all countries have different thoughts about universal depending on their situation economically, politically, and so forth. However, I belive that common to all countries and cultures is the right to have responsibility for your actions. Therefore, I think that the bigger picture of freedom (universally) is the right to have the responsibility. 

Relating to Raina's and Sven's comments, I do believe that "accepting differences" is a very important part of the concept of freedom. By accepting differences, we allow ourselves and others to fully express themselves and that contributes to "being free".

I thought it was very interesting that most of the words listed are related to the mottos of the countries. Are these words really related to the respondent's opinion or is it just the first answer they can think of? That is, is it just automatic or a real reflection of their thoughts? Do the French believe that the notion of “America” (and American values) represents freedom? In my opinion, there’s a chance they believe Americans end up being slaves of the values imposed by their own society. 

I sort of agree with both Clarissa and Raina. I think "accepting differences" is important, but I don't think it's the most important part of freedom. I do agree that this "universal right" is probably the biggest part of freedom.

With respect to Clarissa's comments about the listed words, I found it somewhat interesting as well that the responses were related to the countries' mottos. I suspect that this is probably the case because we have been taught according to the values of our countries ever since we were born, so it may just be a reflection of the values society imposes on us. However, if that's the case, we should ask why society imposes values on us. I think in that case, we are back to a discussion of why some differences, even if just in opinion, may not be accepted.

 So do you think that "accepting differences" is somehow related to the fact that society imposes values on us? And do you mean accepting cultural differences or differences in the more individual level? Looking at the historical perspective of both countries we can see why these mottos came up and why they are so different from each other. Maybe the United States would have to go through a "French Revolutuon" to accept that equality (that is, giving people equal opportunities) is an essential part of creating a society that is free, overall.

I meant to say that the fact that we all have values that confrom with society is because many people in society still frown upon someone who holds completely different values and is at odds with the society's values. Hence in a sense society does not accept differences. By differences, I mean any differences, be they cultural, individual, or something else.

I think the U.S. is not that far from accepting equality, but maybe you're right that they may have to go through somewhat of a "French Revolution" to get there.

What do you think about the Droits/Devoirs word pair that appeared a lot in the French list? And why doesn't it appear more often on the American side?

In my opinion, it is very important to have this view that, in order for evryone to be part of a free society, each individual has responsibilities as well as rights. 


Je trouve vos commentaires surtout ceux de Sven, vachement intéressants et enrichissant, et je suis d'accord avec vous quand vous dites que l'acceptation de l'autre est une partie importante de la liberté, mais même si on laisse à cote cette notion, vous parlez donc des droits de l'homme, et bien jetons un coup d'œil sur le monde autour de nous, effectivement, hors des deux pays, là où il y a la misère, l'illettrisme et la manque de besoins et des droits de base, les dictatures qui torture les peuples, la faim, la maladie, l'insécurité, les guerres et l'ignorance, alors où sont ses droits de l'homme?

I find it very interesting that the american respondents associate freedom with the term "America." I think that both sides associate freedom with the history of their country, which is why for example in america rights are such an important thing & something that a lot of people have been fighting for. Because it IS known as the land of the free, immigrants from all over come and fight for their rights and freedom. 

I think it's interesting that America is known as being the "land of the free" when France went through a major revolution around the same time we did. I was in a club in high school that studied the French Revolution for an entire year, so I don't tend to associate liberty/freedom only with the US. I personally think it's important to remember that democracy, liberty, freedom, etc. were ideas long before America was even an established nation! 

@ Clarissa : Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec toi. Je pense que pour les français, le principe même de liberté va de pair avec des droits et des devoirs. Nous avons un proverbe qui dit "la liberté des uns s'arrête là où commence celles des autres". Ce qui signifie, pour moi, que si la liberté est un droit, la sauvegarde de cette liberté pour chacun est un devoir pour tous.

Les interventions de Mai sont très intéressantes parce qu'elle montre qu'on ne peut pas avoir une vision unique de la liberté, ce qui va bien avec le proverbe aussi !! Chacun conçoit sa liberté à sa manière, et c'est une des raisons pour laquelle on ne peut pas avoir de réelle consensus entre nos différentes définitions de la liberté. On perçoit la liberté selon nos propres critères d'éducation. Par exemple, j'avais été très étonnée par les réactions de certains américains face à l'idée d'instaurer une sécurité sociale/ assurance maladie. Si j'avais bien tout compris, les gens protestaient contre une baisse de leur liberté à cause de ce nouveau système. Or, pour moi, pouvoir se soigner gratuitement fait partie de la définition de la liberté !

I totally agree with Morgane. I was also very surprised that many Americans are against the new Health Care system. However, after having many discussions with other Americans, I do sort of see how this protest has its roots in the foundation of the American culture. Many of the people that helped found the U.S. had left Europe because they did not agree with their government and did not want the government too involved in their daily lives. On top of that, the nation was founded to some extent based on the idea of self-determination, which means that everyone is responsible for themselves. From that point of view, using tax dollars to pay for health care is at least to some extent at odds with the founding principles of the U.S.