France According to Bancroft

France: From Bancroft’s Perspective 

Bonjour! A month ago, the Contemporary French Culture class here at Bancroft began an exploration into the perception of French culture worldwide. As we learned more about stereotypes and cliches associated with France, we wanted to see if the Bancroft community shares the same notions. Many of you (hopefully) filled out the anonymous survey we sent out last month. We have analyzed your responses and are now ready to share our findings with you!

Let’s begin with the good news! Over 93% of the Bancroft community could identify the French flag, which is far different than what we observed in our studies! Did you get it right? The correct flag is below.

The majority of participants in our survey have taken a French class and/or visited a French speaking region, but don’t worry if you haven’t done either, your input was just as important. On the scale of friendliness, Bancroft seems to view French people as equally friendly as Americans. Nearly all of the participants were aware of negative stereotypes associated with France, particularly in the US, so it’s rather remarkable that the Bancroft community has such an objective view on French people. Many recurring stereotypes recorded were that the French are unfriendly, snobby, fancy, and romantic. Obviously it is impossible for any stereotype to be 100% accurate because each and every person is unique in their own way, and it seems that our community knows that. A lot of stereotypes stem from cultural differences or just overall ignorance, which helps explain why the French students have a less stereotypical view on French culture. As far as the infamous unfriendliness associated with the French, I think this anonymous participant said it best, “I also don’t think [French people] like Americans very much, but then again, I feel like a lot of people do not like Americans very much.” This demonstrates that stereotypes can create a negative perception of an entire culture, not only in other countries but the United States as well.

Unsurprisingly, the seniors and faculty on average demonstrated the most knowledge on French culture, which suggests a correlation between level of education and knowledge of global culture. Although the seniors and faculty had the most developed responses, they differed greatly. For example, when asked to name French celebrities, the faculty tended to name political or historical figures, whereas the student body named more singers, athletes, and influencers. Nearly 40% of all participants named Paris as where they would like to visit if they went to France, but other popular responses included Marseille, Nice, Lyon, and the countryside. 

Negresco Hotel in Nice, France

When it came to French television and films, people were a lot less knowledgeable. This responder summed it up for a lot of participants, “Does Ratatouille count?” (I’ll let you be the judge of that). If I could sum up this entire study up into 3 things, I would say that Bancroft’s favorite aspects of French culture are croissants, the Eiffel Tower, and Ratatouille. I guess it could be much worse! Overall, the Contemporary French Culture class was impressed by the Bancroft community’s ability to separate stereotypes from reality.

This article was created with the help of the Contemporary French Culture Class!