In reaction to the French government's planned pension reforms, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets. Government reforms include raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and raising the age at which people can receive full state pensions from 65 to 67. Protestors have blocked access to fuel sources and transportation. (Lady Gaga had to cancel two concerts in Paris!)
- For context, read more about the situation from BBC News and Reuters. What is the protestors' position on the reforms? What is the criticism of the protestors? Do you think this is justified? (Also for context, what is the U.S. retirement age?)
- Youth seem to be the majority of protestors. How is this significant, particularly to how the government can communicate with the public?
- From your study of intercultural communication, what do you know about French people? How could this help the government approach communications with the public and with the groups of protestors?
- Search for online comments about the pension reform and protests. What's the social media buzz about the situation? Does reading these comments change your perspective in some way? Discuss your views in small groups.
- Write an article, on behalf of the French government, that might be published throughout the country. How can you explain the pension reform decisions, while acknowledging the public outcry?
- Practice listening skills with a partner as you discuss the situation. Have one person take a position to criticize either the pension reforms or the protests. As you explain your perspective, your partner should use active listening skills. As the listener, avoid getting into a debate: just use good listening skills, such as paraphrasing, reflecting, and using nonverbal techniques. You may switch roles: the listener now takes the opposite view to explain his or her perspective.