Saturday, March 07, 2009

Whither Europe?

3 comments:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, now we know how you voted in the last American election, don't we?

Gringo said...

It would appear that Europhobes haunt your blog. I used to be a Europhile, but got tired of the carping coming from the other side of the pond. IMHO, Europeans stepped up their criticisms of the US once they no longer needed us to protect them from the USSR.

Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept gives a good overview.

james said...

What is Europe? (I suppose that's the great unanswered question that is going to dissolve the EU eventually. Are Frenchmen willing to make sacrifices for their fellow EUers in Greece, or will the Poles pull together to help Spain?)

I'm hardly an expert on Europe, but I wonder about how we use the numbers like birth rates that get bandied about. (Histograms would be more useful.)

I find I spend most of my occasional times in Geneva with the same colleagues, and my command of French is too poor to learn much from eavesdropping. The people I see seem to match the usual stereotypes of middle-class 1 or zero children couples, or isolates; but every now and then I wind up on a flight aswim with families with young children.

If you hang around with academics (as I must) the sampling bias gives a skewed picture of the country. You get the same effect if you hang around with the folks you feel comfortable with; the like-minded sorts. You'd miss out on whole subcultures, which are all averaged into the statistics for birth rate or church attendance.

When our children were young we were part of an informal network of other parents of young kids, and there was a lively trading of outgrown clothing and furniture among us. My childless co-workers had no contact with these friends, no clue that this existed, and seemed surprised that anybody could possibly afford more than one child.
I'd bet these networks exist in France as well, as part of subcultures that don't get interviewed much.