Organized by Molly O'BRIEN CASTRO & Alexis CHOMMELOUX
Tours University/ICD (FRANCE)
Beyond a tendency to Americanis/ze, globalis/ze – or indeed "globishis/ze" - the English language, it is the very idea of the catch-all, commonly used but less commonly studied concept of Americanis/zation which justifies the event. The concept is a serviceable one and, more often than not, adopted as a deterrent in economic debates - in which case it is even more obviously linked to globalis/zation and to an unbridled form of free-market (or neo-) liberalism - or in institutional, social, religious, and, more genereally, cultural debates. If the cultural influence of the US, this soft-power giant, is unquestionable, just as the idea that American trends, sometimes synonymous with modernity, are increasingly associated with the acculturation of the masses etc., some phenomena and events give some ground to commentators referring to this concept, which, though it hasn’t been the object of enough academic research, at least on this side of the preverbial "Pond", is acknowledged as a valid terminus technicus in the field of social sciences (cf Susann Helger). There are many such phenomena : Presidential or general elections in Europe, more obviously since primaries and US-style campaigns have become common practice in France and political evolutions include the "presidentialisation" of the British PM ; the aftermath of 9/11 and the bellicose attitude adopted by many a European leader ; the come-back of what the French refer to as « le fait religieux » and of religious conservatism in countries which hadn't expected a resurgence of worship in the public debate ; controversies with regard to ethnic and racial statistics and the calling into question of the reality of the integration of migrants in the face of what some consider an American-style community-based model ; the supposed Americanisation of domestic and European law, and the more or less rational fears they engender (with TAFTA or CETA - accronyms which, unsurprisingly, are more often known to European citizens in their American versions). The list is far from comprehensive but is nonetheless an illustration of the multiplicity of transatlantic transfers. It also accounts for an anti-American trend which is well established in some European countries and, conversely, for an undying fascination for a nation which, it seems, can always stand as an example to be followed and is still very good at exporting its ‘American dream’. Americanis/zation inspires mixed feelings in many Europeans, just as mixed feelings can be found in relation to Europe in the US, where the Europeinis/zation issue is also raised : the British National Health Service came under attack in America by opponents of Obamacare, for example, and it seems that most things French are unlikely to draw much support from American Conservatives.