Multicultural exchange: Looking at SDG issues from the perspective of social norms of different countries #1

The Abe Research Group holds a general seminar once a week in the first quarter and each member shares her/his work-in-progress trough presentation.

As a complementary activity to the general seminar, there is another session where each member chooses which SDG goal to focus on and which social norm in their countries of interest. We will post our presentation in order.

The first presentation is by Hugo.

Strikes and Riots in France

Why Strikes and protests are a French Cultural Norms? Especially, how we use them to achieve the SDGs?



France is internationally known for her numerous strikes and violent protests. In this report, I will develop the reason why French people strikes and what are the raisons.

Historically, my people are popular to have revolutionary spirit, as testify the storming of the Bastille or the execution of some of our kings such Louis XVI. Thanks to these events and because it is nowadays in our nature, the Right of Strikes began a constitutional right in 1971. That means that, under some circumstances, you can freely go on strikes during your workdays and protest without seeing your wage decreased.

Strikes are a tool to protest against the Government or claim social/societal issues. I personally identify 3 themes of strikes: Labor (related to work conditions), Social (like BLM or related to climate) or against the Government. Thus, France is the “most striker” country of the world [1] (before Danmark and Belgium) and is reputed for her recurrent strikes turning in riots.

Concerning SDGs settled by the United Nation, each goal may be related to Strikes because, in my mind, French go down in the street each time there are dissatisfied. However, the most representing goals could be the 13. Climate Action, 5. Gender Equality, 10. Reduced Inequalities, 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions and 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth.

As presented during the presentation, there are two possible issues of a strikes: relevant and irrelevant/destructive.
For instance, in the “Yellow vests protests”, people have fought because of economic inequality (SDGs 8 and 10) since October 2018. Because of the magnitude of these strikes, the Government undertaken a lot of actions to satisfy the requirements desired. This movement is definitively beneficial for the society.

Whereas, due to the shooting of Nahel (17 y.o.) after a road trip with the police, France faced violent riots against police violence and racism mid-2023 (SDGs 16). The consequences were disastrous: 1 billion euros of damage, lots of building destructed such banks, hometown, schools, shops [2]… In this second situation, the damage was considerable, a lot of people were wounded (including police and young rioters) and the trial of the policeman was postponed. Those events divided the population. Even if the substance may be good, the form has made the movement a shame and has made the conflict worse.


Do people protest in your country? How?
What were the most important last strikes in your country? Why?

      In Thailand, people could be afraid to go on strike and they rarely turn violent because police are allowed to reply violently. Similarly, in Laos, it seems hard to create similar movement because of a certain overcontrol of the population through social medias inter alia.

      In Japan, due to the Japanese shy temper, people do not used to strike. Social movements mainly happen through social networks as X or Instagram for instance.

      In China, strikes do not happen so often neither because it is quite hard to launch a social movement with the current system. Besides, people used to believe in the government to solve social issues.

      The most recent markable strikes in Malaysia were between ~2007 and ~2014 and treated suspicions of unfair/corrupted elections. Indeed, the same party had been elected for a so long time that people started thinking there were frauds somewhere. Nowadays, it is tricky to know if the situation has really changed. For Philippines, massive protests happened because of a violent and military dictatorship which used to get people killed without trials when there were opponents to the Government. For these two countries, you need to declare the strike in a government office to insure a good management of the event.

      In Indonesia, there was a general strike concerning a new government’s bill dealing many subjects: labor, environment, and freedom of speech on internet. Despite the movement, nothing changed: the government continued to apply what they wanted. In France, hopefully, most important strikes are followed by actions to satisfy as they can strikers.

      In Colombia and America Latina in general, most of the strikes easily turn into riots and the damage are always important in addition to be without any improvement. So, what will be keys to do a good demonstration? Also, should we think that strikes are mainly addressed to poorer people?

In my mind, a good demonstration is a demonstration which is long enough and count enough people to make the government says: “oh okay, maybe we are doing something wrong because our people are not following us”. But it should be non-violent, otherwise, every effort put in so far will be vanished by these bad actions.
Concerning the people concerned by strikes, some SDGs are definitively more related to poor population, but when it concerns social aspect such Peace, Gender Equality or Climate Change, no need to be rich or poor to feel involved by the cause.

[1] Tristan GAUDINOT (April 30, 2021). Dans quels pays fait-on le plus la grève?.

[2] James REGAN, BLOOMBERG (2023). French riots have cost $1.1 billion in damage to businesses and travelers are even canceling their vacation plans.