boring, necessary, money

busy, hours, tired


Ethics, Hard, Engaging

exciting, interesting, pride, research


Identity, money, life

identity, stress, fulfillment

job, money, future

lab, tired, fun

money, fun, bad bosses

money, future, diligence, forty hours

money, work ethic, necessity

necessity, self-satisfaction, retirement

obligation, responsibility, monetary compensation

school, money, success

tired, boring, distraction

argent, horaires, hiérarchie

Argent, Important, Rencontres

argent, labeur, fatigant

argent, plaisir, rencontres

argent, temps, fatiguant


devoir, moyen de subsister

effort, implication, dévouement

gagne-pain, dur, bureau

mérite, argent, épanouissement

Plaisir, groupe, rencontre

salaire, obligation, contacts

sécurité financière, fatigue

sécurité, argent,


vacances, café, heures supplémentaires



Y a-t-il un salaire minimum pour les travailleurs aux Etats-Unis ?

Les aides sociales sont-elles conséquentes ?

Beaucoup d'entre vous voient le travail comme une contrainte fatiguante et ennuyeuse. N'y a-t-il aucune notion d'épanouissement personnel et de plaisir au travail ?

- - -
Olivier et Jonathan

J'ai remarqué que beaucoup d'Américains, le travail est perçu comme quelque chose d'ennuyeux, de fatiguant, et surtout une nécessité.

Voyez-vous cette nécessité comme un besoin (monétaire, alimentaire) ou un devoir envers la société et l'état ?

The minimum wage and social benefits in the US varies from state to state, but they are generally phenomenal. For example, in Massachusetts, it is mandatory that everyone has health insurance. If one cannot afford it, it is provided to one by the state. With regards to minimum wages, although they are high when compared to other countries, they are low when compared to the american standard of living.

Employees in America, with an exception to researchers and computer scientist, generally work to survive and make a living, and so 'work' gives the connotation of being laborious, boring but necessary.

Is this the case in France? From the media, it seems that chômage is a huge problem in France, and that employees are constantly dissatisfied with their managers and their compensation, yet the words frequently mentioned on the french side were mostly positive.

Also what is meant by 'moyen de subsister'?


I would agree with Jonn that work in general has a negative connotation with few exceptions of fulfillment. It was also surprising to me that work was not connected with boring in the french responses as it was frequently in the american responses. 

I was really surprised to not find coffee and meetings in the american responses as the two are generally known to very much exist in american jobs/work. It was also surprising to find that school and identity were not mentioned in the french responses.

Is an education important to getting a "good job" as it is in american culture? Do people generally identify themselves with what they do for a living in France? 

Also, while I saw the word 'plaisir' mentioned in the responses, I am curious as to whether that refers to personal pleasure or pleasing others? As you may realize, the different meanings can lead to different conclusions. 

If I'm not mistaken, 'moyen de subsister' refers to means of existence, or necessary to live/survive. 



There is a federal minimum wage set by the Congress (now $7.25 an hour) and then some states make it even higher.


The social net is pretty much set up for three types of people -- the poor and disabled, the elderly, and the unemployed and workers dislocated from their field becasue of trade. One of the debates in this year's presidential campaign is over whether we need to cut back federal spending on these items. One way with Social Security -- a monthly payment for older people -- would be to raise the age at which people can begin to receive benefits.

I am a professional journalist and I don't find my work boring! I find work totally stimulating. I think being a journalist is the best job in the world. I love it!


What is the minimum wage in France? How many weeks of vacation do people get? Isn't there a push to scale back these benefits so France, according to the advocates, can be more comepetitive in the global economy? Isn't it really hard to fire someone in France?

After reading the words posted about this topic, I started wondering about a few things. What do the French workers think of the current 35 hour per week limit? Is it enough time to fully invest in your work and be productive? Do people think it is more than it should be? 

There seemed to be a mix of opinions regarding working. Some people said that they enjoyed work while some treated it only a necessity and not something they enjoy. Although this could be true for both America and for France, what is the French opinion on this? Is work something that is rewarding in ways other than money? 

+John Yazbek, je pense que les 35heures sont une erreur, en effet, le système actuel autour de cette legislation empêche complètement de pouvoir travailler autant qu'on le souhaite. Elle a été pensé pour faciliter la gestion des temps de travaux et éviter les abus de la part de certaines entreprises sur le temps de travail, là où les employés pourraient être forcés de faire plus d'heures.

Mais il y a beaucoup de cas où un employé pourrait vouloir de lui-même travailler plus. Comme dans le cas de société uni-personnelles ou de petites tailles. Avec la situation actuelle, il est très très difficile de travailler comme souhaité.

Après, on parle souvent des heures supplémentaires, le très populaire "travailler plus pour gagner plus" de notre président actuel. Certainement un des plus grands coups de bluffs. En effet, bien souvent, il est impossible de faire ces heures supplémentaires : le cout pour les patrons est beaucoup trop important et elles sont souvent peu déclarées.

Pour ce qui est d'aimer travailler ou prendre le travail comme une nécessité, je pense dans mon cas que cela dépend d'une première part de travail. En effet, dans une usine, je ne pense pas que l'on va souvent y être parce que l'on aime ce travail (du moins, la nécessité y a une part importante) tandis que dans d'autres métiers comme certains en informatique, la volonté d'y travailler relève, je pense, peu de la nécéssité et plus de l'envie. Une autre chose qui est certainement un facteur de cette vision est sur les temps de travail comparés aux temps de repos. La vie de tous les jours est partagée entre le travail et les loisirs.

Quelle est d'ailleurs le nombre d'heures moyen aux Etats-Unis et pour les loisirs/famille/repos ?

I'd say it's a bit hard to get a good impression of what work means for students on both sides, and what is the perception of work or the culture of work in France and in the US. It seems that on both sides people agree that it's a necessity (money, argent etc), and there are positive as well as negative connotations on both sides. One difference in responses I noticed was that there are more negative associations on american side than on french side (I counted 17 vs 9) and that there are also more positive connotations on american side than on french side (I counted 13 vs 8). I wonder if any conclusions can be extracted from this...not sure.

But I'm very curious about the culture of work in France. In my opinion, here people are certainly overworked..

How important is being professional in France? I think a lot of the stress in working in the US comes from the pressure of being professional. For example, I try to always be on time, and if I do not get good quality of work (I do research, so mostly if I don't get good results), I get afraid that my supervisor will be unhappy with me.  I think that even a little hint of being unprofessional in a work setting gets frowned upon in the US. Is it the same in France?

+ Kevin. Employees in the US get around 2 weeks of payed vacation per year. There is no limit on the amount of hours worked per week, but the average is around 40 hours. However, there are people, such as resident doctors, who work up to 80 hours a week. 

In the US, people work a lot. As Sumin mentioned, there is always pressure to produce more, to work better and to achieve greater. Work is often a priority in people's life and the higher people climb up the corporate ladder, the less time they have for family and leisure time. 

There's a lot of interest in graduate school or pursuing more education after our four years at MIT. Is there a similar trend in France or do most people go straight into working?

As Benjamin Franklin said: "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

We are lucky because we have all been given the opportunity for a magnificent education, which allows more freedom in choosing exactly what we wish to do. It is important to imagine the average worker who must take whatever job can be afforded him.

Concerning the responses, what is noticed is this: Our responses seems to focus more upon working in order to get money for spending, whereas your responses seemed to indicate working in order to support the rest of what you do with your life. It's a slight distinction, but one I feel indicates a lot about our different philosophies. 

Would you agree with this assessment?

If you think about it, there's a bit of a cycle in how we live and work. As Sumin pointed out, being professional is very important here in the US. Some aspects of being professional require money, and exuding a sense of richness definitely can add to an image of power and professionality in the workplace. So, a (probably small but present nontheless) percentage of the money gained through work may go back into one's appearance, to get more money to continue to spend in a cycle. 

How much vacance time do people get in France?

If you're a student working in a lab, how much time are you expected to work there during school year and during the summer?

* sorry I meant vacation time

Kevin --

Because of the Great Recession, Americans have had to work harder than ever, both because downsizing has meant one person does the jobs of other workers who were laid off and the currently employed fear being laid off.

The result has been a lot of stress. People have really feared being laid off. The fear is going down some now as the unemployment rate has dropped. But it's still real, particularly for older workers -- 40 plus -- who earn more money and worry their employer will push them out to replace them with cheap, younger workers. There are laws in the United States against discrimination based on age -- 40 plus -- but they are "toothless" (ineffective).


There is also a push in the Congress to make it illegal to discriminate in hiring against people who are unemployed. Some employers advertise that they only will consider people who are currently employed. Some people in states like Michigan, where there is very high unemployment, have not worked for two years. Some employers see this as meaning the people will bring problems to the workplace, such as bad health and bad work habits.


I'm curious about whether people's responses to "work" are associations with specific jobs they have in mind, or simply with the idea of work. I was one of the students who wrote positive things about work, because when I think of work I think of research, which I really love to do. I wonder what kinds of jobs French and American students are thinking about when they write positive/negative things.

Also, I agree with Madeleine's comment about how Americans sometimes get stuck in a cycle in their professional life, both earning more and spending more to earn more. In France, since there is a cap to the amount of time employees can work, is that cycle less apparent, simply because there isn't the option of working more? Although I can certainly see the disadvantages of that system, at the same time it sounds appealing because it might help prevent people from having their personal lives consumed by work.

La question d'Arnaud peut paraître curieuse, mais mais elle soulève un point intéressant. Comme les chômeurs reçoivent de la part de l'Etat un revenu minimum (même s'ils ne travailent pas), il y a une espèce de pression morale pour ceux qui ne travaillent pas, ils vivent "aux crochets" de la société (à ses dépends). Travailler peut alors apparaître comme un devoir moral en plus d'un moyen de gagner de l'argent.

De plus, le but n'est pas de gagner le plus possible mais de mener le train de vie que l'on souhaite. Passé un certain stade de salaire, gagner plus n'augmentera pas forcément le niveau de vie. Il n'est pas rare que quelqu'un choisisse un travail moins payé pour gagner en confort. L'exemple typique est celui des parisiens qui préfèrent accepter un poste moins bien payé et partir travailler en province(pas à Paris), pour quitter les bouchons, la pression, et s'acheter une grande maison (l'immobilier est très cher à Paris) pour fonder une famille. Gagner de l'argent n'est pas un but en soi mais un moyen de vivre la vie qu'on souhaite.

En ce qui concerne la pression hiérarchique, elle dépend du niveau de responsabilité du poste et de l'entreprise, et augmente avec l'avancement (et le salaire). C'est dur de généraliser. Certaines entreprises (comme France Telecom) ont eu des problèmes de suicides en série (sûrement dûs au stress), alors que d'autres investissent pour le "bien-être" de leurs employés. Chaque entreprise a sa propre politique de management.

+ Madeleine, Il est aussi important en France d'être professionnel, mais je ne suis pas sûr de comprendre le "cycle" dans lequel l'employé dépense de l'argent pour être professionnel. Peut-être parles-tu d'investissements dans des outis de travail (smartphones ... etc). En France le matériel est souvent fourni par l'entreprise dès qu'elle atteint une certaine taille, c'est du matériel "de fonction" qui est prêté à l'employé (téléphone, ordinateur, voire voiture).

Officiellement, la durée légale des congés est de 5 semaines de congés payés par an pour des semaines de 35h, mais plus le poste est imortant, plus il est rare (car mal vu) de les prendre tous. De plus les cadres ne sont pas soumis aux 35 heures.



Les Americains et les Francais sont d'accord que le mot qui decrit meilleur "travail" est "argent" (money). Tout le monde veut le travail a etre tres agreable, mais nous connaissons il est vraiment la securite financiere. Question: Si vous eteindriez tres riche, est-ce que vous feriez les meme choix pour l'ecole et le travail? Pourquoi oui ou non?