Following the unprecedented destruction witnessed during the 2005 youth riots in France, some social commentators have suggested that the young offenders, many of whom were of immigrant descent, were tired of France's colour-blind rhetoric and were now demanding recognition of their minority status, much like some groups in the United States. However, little scholarly work has captured in any systematic way the perception of such young people. In an effort to illuminate their views, this paper draws on 12 months of ethnographic field research, beginning in September 2005, among young people, both of immigrant ancestry and ‘Franco-French’, living in the housing projects of a medium-sized French city. Noting that markers associated with class distinctions were accepted by youth as a valid form of diversity but ones having to do with race were not, I argue that these young people are just as committed to republican values as anyone else in France. Facile comparison between the American and French contexts is apt to be more misleading than helpful.
French Cultural Studies – SAGE
Published: Feb 1, 2011
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