France and Quebec: A problematic comparison?
International comparison as science and social practiceBy Émilie Biland, Fabien Desage
In a now classic book, the American political scientist Sydney Tarrow emphasized the internal resources that transnational activists mobilized. Therefore such activists are “rooted cosmopolitans”. This article analyzes the recent development of circulations between France and Quebec, concerning both people and symbolic and material goods. In a symmetrical way it shows how international comparison constitutes a common dimension of social and apolitical practices that are rooted locally and/or nationally. Many differences characterize these two societies, which are so often close together. This France and Quebec tend to form a “comparative vis-à-vis”, whose citizens, – academics but also and especially officials, activists, representatives, journalists – tend to compare themselves. This wide spread of comparative practices invites comparatist scholars to a reflexive turn. This article encourages them to take into account the common uses of comparison among their respondents (who compare themselves, as much as they are compared), as well as the internal stakes of the international comparison.