French in the eyes of others : cultural citizenship, marginalization, and France’s middle-class North African second-generation
Title: French in the eyes of others : cultural citizenship, marginalization, and France’s middle-class North African second-generation
Author: BEAMAN, Jean
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2013/09
In this paper, based on 45 interviews with adult children of North African immigrants in the Paris metropolitan area, I discuss those individuals who, despite their educational and professional successes, remain excluded from mainstream French society. In particular, I explain how this segment of France’s second-generation defines being French and how they relate to these definitions. Respondents distinguish between the cultural and legal dimensions of French as an identity. Despite being born in France, they are often perceived as foreigners and therefore have their “Frenchness” contested by their compatriots. This population must navigate two seemingly separate social worlds – Maghrébin culture versus French society. As they have French citizenship, children of North African immigrants are therefore technically French. Yet they often find that they are denied a cultural citizenship, one which would enable them to be accepted by others as French. Ultimately, many of the North African second-generation seeks to assert not an oppositional identity, but a French one. Taking cultural citizenship into consideration provides a more nuanced understanding of the socio-cultural realities of both being a minority in France and how citizenship operates in everyday life. This research indicates how race and ethnicity remain significant in French society and how France’s minorities remain linked to minority populations worldwide.
Subject: Immigration; Maghrébin; North African; Identity; Cultural citizenship; France
Type of Access: openAccess