civicness in france by region

here are the results of the world values survey‘s civicness questions for france (2006) by region.

these data cover whites in france only. i’m pretty sure that doesn’t include north africans (berbers/arabs from algeria, for instance) because literally just a couple of the white respondents said they were muslims. so these data should really represent mostly ethnic french folks, with maybe some other europeans thrown in here and there. unlike in the post for spain, the samples sizes for all the (NUTS) regions of france were 50+. the pale yellow highlights indicate the region that had the highest score for a particular question (click on charts for LARGER views):

here’s a map of the average civicness scores for each region. note that, while the color scheme here is the same one i used on the map of spain, the scale is different. for instance, the least civic region in france (paris) is more civic than the most civic region in spain (catalonia):

the first thing to notice is that the civicness scores for ethnic french folks are lower than those of the anglo world across the board — often a lot lower. the french scores are lower than those of great britain (which i haven’t broken down by region/ethnicity yet — you’re next, g.b.!) — and, except for membership in a sport/recreation organization, lower than those for white americans. for example, in 2006, 17.10% of white americans said they were active members of a political party, while only 2.60% of whites in france said so.

wrt the flatlanders vs. mountain people theory, it looks to me as though the mountain dwellers of france, all of whom have a recent history of close matingthe auvergnats, those in alpine regions, and populations in the east, like in parts of lorraine — prove to be true to form in being less civic than the more lowland regions further to the west:

the most civic region of france — “paris east” (captain picardy, champagne-ardenne, and burgundy) — apart from being something of a lowland region, also appears to have been a part of early medieval austrasia. the population of this area is, therefore, likely, due to the “invention” of manorialism in this region, to have had one of the longest histories of outbreeding/nuclear family structures in nw europe. (however, as charles donahue has shown, during the medieval period, the people of this region practiced arranged marriages much more often than in england during the same time period, so marriage wasn’t quite as “free” historically in this region as amongst the english.)

the least civic region of france is paris — but, of course, paris is a thoroughly multi-cultural city, and so its residents probably suffer from putnam’s lack of trust [opens pdf] that arises naturally in diverse societies.

the next least civic region of france is nord-pas-de-calais which is also multi-cultural in its own way being comprised historically of both french and flemish speakers. (there are also, apparently, a lot of other europeans, and more recent immigrants from africa/latin america, living in the region.) again, diversity does not normally make for civic societies.

it might also be that the french flemings, like their distant neighbors/cousins(?) the frisians, had a longer history of inbreeding than other populations in northern france. i’m not sure about that since i don’t have any mating info on the french flemings — and i don’t know, either, what sort of territory they traditionally occupied (was it swampy like the frisians? and did they, therefore, miss out on manorialism like the frisians?).

oh — and remember how french canadians don’t seem to be very civic or trusting/charitable compared to anglo-canadians? well, isn’t it interesting that the same holds true for french people in france vs. anglos? and remember where in france most of the ancestors of french canadians hailed from? — the area outlined in red on this map? that is smack in the middle of a slightly upland, not-so-very civic region in france today: “paris west” at 8.93%.

previously: civic societies and civicness in the u.s. by race and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and meanwhile, in france… and the auvergnat pashtuns and medieval manoralism and the hajnal line and “l’explication de l’idéologie” and more on medieval england and france and what’s up with french candians? and canadiens and canadiens again

(note: comments do not require an email. frenchman.)



  1. Excellent! The first thing that came to my mind is to compare this map to these maps, both family and farming, as France seems to have had a much more complicated structure with these things than most other European countries. There are indeed some parallels between family structures and civicness; notably, civicness seems to be higher where nuclear/egalitarian families were popular and lower where “stem” families were the rule. Perhaps stem families were more conducive to inbreeding (as seen in some parts of Eastern Europe and the Celtic fringe)?


  2. @jayman – “Perhaps stem families were more conducive to inbreeding (as seen in some parts of Eastern Europe and the Celtic fringe)?”


    i think the general pattern is this (or something like this):

    – flatland >> slightly elevated >> more elevated >> mountainous

    – mostly agriculture (if you’ve got it) >> mixed agriculture+pastoralism >> mixed pastoralism+agriculture >> mostly pastoralism

    – outbreeding >> some inbreeding >> more inbreeding >> lots of inbreeding

    – nuclear family >> stem family >> joint family >> extended family

    – “atomized” society >> somewhat group oriented society >> clannish society >> tribal society

    …or something like that. (~_^)


  3. the civicness scores for ethnic french folks are lower than those of the anglo world across the board

    This really fits with what I see living here. My sense is that the French just simply feel it is the right and proper role of the State to do all kinds of things that Anglo-Saxons don’t (esp. Americans). It’s reflected in their laws. All kinds of charity orgs, NGOs, labor unions, etc. are funded generously by the government here. Even though the tax write-off for charitable giving is one of the highest in Europe, the French donate a lot less than other countries.

    They’re comfortable with a far greater role for the State in so many domains– business, education, the media, culture, sports (there’s a ‘Sports Minister’ in the French cabinet), etc., and it seems to spill over into civil society. There’s a kind of passive ‘the State will take care of it’ mindset. And oddly, for all the noise French labor unions make, only 8% of the working population are union members.

    However, from what I’ve seen those ‘sport/recreation’ numbers are right on the money. You can go to the tiniest little village in France and they’re organizing football or rugby teams. Cycling, handball, judo…the French love amateur sports (playing and watching).

    I don’t know how much of all that comes from character traits inherited from family structure, vs. other sources. The family-system angle and the altitude angle both must play a big role. It’s so interesting to see the differences, and how strange the French find the Anglo-Saxon way of doing things.


  4. @m.g. – “And oddly, for all the noise French labor unions make, only 8% of the working population are union members.”

    yes! i keep being surprised at the relatively low numbers of active members of unions in europe. i thought half of europeans were in unions! (~_^)

    @m.g. – “They’re comfortable with a far greater role for the State in so many domains….”

    that’s the thing i think is so interesting and that i’d like to get at. a lot of continental europeans seem like to have The State take care of everything (or a lot) — the french, the germans, the scandinavians — and i wonder where that comes from. is it the history of the family structure that led to this attitude (like todd says)? something else? a combo? dunno, but it’s fascinating!


  5. hello HBD chick.
    First time on your blog. I am a Frenchman getting interested in the whole HBD stuff.
    From 1789 and the glorious revolution to roughly the late 1960’s, there was this idea in France that there is nothing between the individuals and the state.
    Society doesn’t exist. Unions are not legitimate, corporations neither.
    Presidents like Pompidou were famous to reply to people who were telling “teachers want this, homosexuals want that”. “Homosexuals and teachers don’t exist. Only individual and the State exist.”


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