The frugalist or the mythology of the businessman of the post-Covid world
In 2050, the frugalist is the new symbol of social success. In 2020, the frugalist is the symbol of the contradictions of our society.
We are in 2050. Social morphology is very different from what we know in 2020. The symbols of socio-professional success have changed. A successful professional career no longer means climbing the ladder within a sector of activity, but being able to live frugally, and even to be assimilated, in a positive way, to the figure of a retiree. A particular retiree, of course, but who stands out from the image conveyed by this status in 2019 for example, during demonstrations against the pension reform. They even become the new figure of the businessman, far from the image of that of Carlos Ghosn or Bernard Tapie.
Initially frugalism is derived from the masculine adjective frugal (from the Latin frugalis), meaning sober. This term, generally used to qualify the way of life of a person who "eats little, who lives in a simple way", describes since the beginning of the 2010s a completely different reality. The frugal represents an individual who decides to retire early (early retirement: from the age of 35) thanks to the financial independence acquired thanks to the world of work and this, before the age of 40. This movement (FIRE) was born in the United States (one of the founding works of the movement was published there), it advocates deconsumption through a simple way of life. It is worn by individuals from the middle and upper classes, and graduates of higher education (and sometimes even from the largest schools).
The emergence and spread of this movement at the start of the XNUMXst century went hand in hand with a set of conjectures with which Western individuals had to contend: quest for professional meaning, weakening of confidence in state institutions, loss of steam in the meritocratic principle in the face of a reproduction of the global elites, financial insecurity vis-à-vis social regimes, increasingly thwarted promise of social advancement, the lack of steam in the cult of performance, etc. In reaction, new values linked to social success have gradually taken root in the Western imagination in order to make the plan of life in society acceptable. These new values are geared towards reinsurance and personal development practices. The professional rise advocated by the cult of performance, as A. Ehrenberg theorized, no longer arouses passions, at least in appearance.
Success takes on new contours, such as those linked to free time and the notion of life projects. A “new available time” is made possible by obtaining financial independence. It is an objective that requires many sacrifices, drastic management of day-to-day finances and judicious investments (stock market, real estate). In a way, it is about a life of asceticism which carries the hope of a future daily life detached from the constraints linked to the need to generate income in order to be able to survive. Relieved of this constraint, frugalists can thus flourish in all spheres of their lives, and even teach aspiring frugalists the methods to achieve this.
Paradoxically (or not) of the situation, it is precisely their life objective that will lead them to enrichment (accumulate as many resources as possible during the period when they have a professional activity) in order to generate a situation rent, guaranteeing a comfortable retirement. Once retired, frugalists continue to accumulate capital, particularly related to the income generated by their new consulting activities on the subject, precisely of frugalism.
In 2020, the frugalist is the symbol of the contradictions of our society
Let's go back to 2020. The world of Covid-19 is not very different from the one before, but the weak signals observed before the pandemic are becoming more and more structuring in the lives of Western individuals. The values advocated by this sometimes elitist way of life are now resonating with the fears of the population. The FIRE movement even seems to bring solutions to individuals who are wondering about work that no longer seems to be able to be accomplished, to fears about an uncertain future, to the desire to change the way people work. life and consumption that seizes more and more individuals, etc. The attraction for this movement raises many questions concerning the rise of survivalist and collapsological ideologies that can have a significant impact in the medium and long term on our lifestyles: emancipation vis-à-vis the market system, non-adherence to operations. companies (work, retirement, savings), enhancement of autonomy (economic, food, etc.), etc.
While the syndrome of postmodernism would push the individual to live in the instantaneity and to no longer believe in the future, the frugalists seem to have succeeded in the tour de force of making social success the fact of capitalizing on financial resources and social resources they have in order to be able to live without working: the businessman even becomes a humanist individual with a virtuous way of life!
Frugalism can then be seen as the individual response to the paradoxical injunctions of postmodern society: to succeed in one's life (not only professionally but in all areas) by enrolling in a process of personal development guided by a quest for meaning necessary for life. attainment of happiness. While money sets itself up as a "monetary religion" (to use D. Chidester's terminology) for the frugalist, other types of individuals also advocate an alternative and modest way of life: such as A. Fogh Jensen ( 2012) or P. Colombot (2011) – both authors of manifestos not accessible online. They advocate, like some authors of degrowth, more flexibility on the part of institutions on the capacity of individuals to undertake (regulations, standards, laws, taxes, etc.) in order to be able to release the energies which, when they hatch, will work “for the greatest benefit of the general interest” (quote from Pierre Colombot's manifesto).
While some see postmodernism as a decrease in trust in abstract systems (rules, institutions) in favor of building an emotional self, the frugalists are said to be reclaiming these values in order to redefine the contours of happiness and by extension to ensure a certain reproduction of the elites and the maintenance of their capital (social, economic, cultural).
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