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If France Didn't Exist, Americans Would Have to Invent It

Sophie Body-Gendrot

In what follows, we look at American opinion on France over 30 years’ time, as conveyed by several opinion polls. Granted that public opinion is an artefact, there are nonetheless phenomena that can only be grasped by quantitative studies that reflect the respondents’ modes of thought, values, beliefs, patterns of representation and attitudes, as elicited by a question posed at a specific time.1 Moreover, by looking at a number of subgroups we can avoid the implication that “(all) Americans think X or Y about France.” Furthermore, the evolution of the answers to similar questions can be as informative as the answers themselves, since it teaches us about changes or continuities in American society’s attitudes.