Les Immigrés de la République

Philippe d’Iribarne, Paris, Seuil, 2009.

In France, it was the aim of the Revolution to establish a political body composed of equal citizens. But, in everyday relationships, at work or among neighbours, the social body is marked by an acute attention to each citizen’s social characteristics, and in particular their ethnic origins. Many factors, from the relinquishment of the old ideal that foreigners should be assimilated – an ideal that used to induce newcomers to behave like “real French people” – to the representation the French have of nowadays of Islam, are responsible for the fact that being a citizen by law is not sufficient for an individual to be granted a full position in the social body. A multicultural society is a utopia, in France and elsewhere.

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