Aperitifs, rush in the shops, queues in front of fast-food restaurants … Do we really have to

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Queues in front of Fnac, people crane stand in front of the gate of a Zara shop, hours to wait to order a Big Mac … These scenes were strongly commented on Monday, May 11, on the first day of deconfinement and the opening of stores not essential.

2 months of confinement and there is their first reflex is to go to Zara I try to understandasked Yass on Twitter. The first reflex of some people of deconfinement is to go rush to Zara or McDonald’s? You really have 2 IQ, is indignant Theo.

However, according to sociologists, this behavior is not only perfectly human, but can help some people to respect confinement better, and make them feel guilty being counterproductive. We interviewed separately Hélène Gorge, lecturer at the University of Lille within ILIS (Faculty of Engineering and Health Management), and affiliated to the research laboratory LSMRC (University of Lille), and Gérard Mermet, sociologist , director of Francoscopie.

> Follow here our live news from May 12 devoted to the coronavirus pandemic

Where does this need to consume come out of containment?

Hélène Gorge: The restrained sobriety pushes to buy the superfluous. It is an ephemeral need to find a form of pleasure, to be able to look, to touch objects that we like. Buy to compensate for negative emotions. Clothing is particularly concerned because after weeks of being locked up, we will be able to reappear socially, and we want to be well dressed.

Gérard Mermet: This first phase of deconfinement is a phase of release. Some have lived in difficult conditions, in small urban dwellings. Since the beginning of the crisis, fear has accumulated, frustrations too, fueled by contradictory injunctions, on what to do or not to do. We are moving from a consumer society to a consolation society. We consume to make up for both the lost time and the bleak prospects that await us, because the epidemic does not stop.

Why are some brands like Mc Donald’s or Zara particularly attacked?

Hélène Gorge: I don’t think they are more than others. Historically, these are mass businesses, which brew a lot of people. It is especially that they are particularly pointed out for their ecological impact, their way of producing, because they represent the fast consumption to excess. But at the same time, we observe a reverse dynamic, towards small producers, reasoned consumption, because confined at home, we have time to learn, to reflect on the scope of our actions. The question is above all: will these more ethical behaviors remain anchored? I’m not sure.

Gérard Mermet: These brands represent benchmarks in social relations. Especially for young people: they buy to promote themselves socially and brands are a strong signal. There is also a bit of nostalgia, to reconnect with life before the epidemic.

Is it right to blame those who wait hours to order a Big Mac or buy a new pair of shoes?

Hélène Gorge: It is not justified. Already because it doesn’t work to really change behavior. In marketing, encouraging consumption via negative feelings is not effective in the long term. We can clearly see this with prevention campaigns. But with confinement, this tendency to feel guilty is even stronger, because we spy on our neighbor, we judge those who do not protect themselves enough, we scrutinize those who do not follow the instructions … And finally it comes down to defining what is of the order of necessity. But what is necessary is not limited to primary needs. It is a purely subjective balance between needs and pleasures.

Gérard Mermet: Guilt doesn’t mean anything. Yet this is what the Southern European models, of which France is a part, advocate. The countries of northern Europe preferred to empower, demonstrate pedagogy, explain, play on solidarity. And we can see clearly in Sweden in particular, that this method is bearing fruit. Especially since this need to consume is a way to catch your breath, before, perhaps, diving back if you had to be reconfigured. Guilt is also about creating more frustrations and leading to conflict. Now, however, we have to think together about what we are going to do tomorrow. Co-build, involve each and every one by an intellectual, practical, sometimes financial contribution.

Some French men and women braved confinement to meet up with friends over an aperitif or waited impatiently for May 11 to do so. How to explain it?

Hélène Gorge: There is a real French cultural peculiarity at the arrival of the beautiful days. In winter, it wouldn’t have been as difficult. If the government had not deconfigured, I think many would have flouted the rules and ended up.

Gérard Mermet: Crisis situations weaken those who are less solid psychologically and less autonomous. They need to exchange, to share their fears, to know that they are not alone in suffering. For others, it can be a form of unconsciousness or fatalism: After all, many people are infected and asymptomatic. I’m in good health, it won’t happen to me, they think wrongly.



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