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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


France

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 2 2


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Article 1 of the French constitution (1958) says that “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.”
  • Delvainquière (2007, 20) interprets this as an affirmation that “France does not recognise minorities, whether they be ethnic, religious, linguistic or other. Under French law, all citizens have equal rights, and the law is not intended to accord specific rights to given ‘groups’ defined by their community of origin, culture, beliefs, language or ethnicity.”
  • To be sure, France is a culturally diverse country, and this dimension is not ignored entirely. De Wenden (2005, 73) has argued that a distinctly French approach to multiculturalism is evolving, particularly with respect to the country’s Maghrebian population, which in their negotiations with French officials, has tended to follow a republican model, asking for a delegation of responsibility in particular areas, while respecting France’s laws and values and assuming a French cultural identity. This, in de Wenden’s view, is the “French compromise.”
  • In 2007, a Ministry for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development was created by President Sarkozy. It is mandated to control migration flows (and illegal migration, in particular), encourage cooperation between migrants and their countries of origin, promote the French identity and facilitate integration. Integration is recognized as a two-way process that involves migrants as well as the host society. Nonetheless, it is clear that immigrants are expected to integrate into existing French culture and society; it is the responsibility of the state and society to help facilitate this (Ministère de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire 2010).
  • Until recently, there were several other organizations undertaking work related to immigration and integration. These include the Fonds d’Action Social pour les Travailleurs Immigrés et leurs Familles (FAS), the Service Social d’Aide aux Emigrants (SSAE), the Office des Migrations Internationales (OMI), the Direction de la Population et des Migration (DPM), and the Haut Conseil à l’Intégration (HCI). Most of these have now been centralized into the National Agency for the Welcoming of Foreigners and Migrants (ANAEM—Agence Nationale de l’Accueil des Etrangers et des Migrations) (Schiff et al. 2008b).
  • At the local level, Schiff et al. (2008b) note that policies related to integration and inclusion are rarely ever unified and certainly never targeted directly at immigrants and minorities; they exist instead under the auspices of various other administrative departments and programs. Local migrant councils have been introduced, but their consultative role is limited to issues that fall under municipal jurisdiction (Schuerkens 2005).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Although the school curriculum includes references to recognizing and respecting other cultures, the guidelines do not incorporate multiculturalism or interculturalism (Delvainquière 2007; see also Schiff et al. 2008a).
  • This is reiterated in an accord signed in 2007 and entitled “Pour favoriser la réussite scolaire et promouvoir l’égalité des chances pour les jeunes immigrés et issus de l’immigration” (To promote academic achievement and equality of opportunity for young immigrants). The convention was signed by several ministries and recognizes the value of cultural diversity and the importance of understanding other cultures. The accord commits to promoting “learning to live together” and to fighting discrimination. It is not, however, a commitment to multicultural curriculum (Ministère de l’immigration, de l’intégration, de l’identité nationale et du développement solidaire 2007; see also Eurybase 2008a).


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   Only weakly and not explicitly.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Radio and television broadcasting is overseen by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA), which was established in 1989; it was the third broadcasting regulator to have been created in France.
  • The 1986 Law on Freedom of Communication gives the Conseil its authority. Its responsibilities include ensuring broadcasters adhere to the principles of pluralism and objectivity, ensuring respect for human dignity, protecting the interests of children, and protecting and promoting French language and culture on television and radio. The Conseil must also ensure television is accessible (particularly to those who are deaf or hearing-impaired) and that the “audiovisual media reflect the diversity of French society.” In the Conseil’s mandate, it is noted that “the media have a responsibility to present an image reflecting the reality of today’s France and to combat discrimination. The Observatoire de la diversité has been established by the Conseil as a dedicated tool to assess policies implemented by television channels in this respect” (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel 2010; see also Delvainquière 2007).
  • Neither the legislation nor the mandate of the Conseil specifically mentions ethnic or racial minorities, although “diversity” “pluralism” and the absence of “discrimination” are referenced. This is consistent with France’s definition of equality which does not permit the differentiation of groups on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion.
  • Some observers have pointed to the absence of minorities on mainstream television and radio and suggest that this has spurred the development of an ethnic press and various ethno-specific channels (Schuerkens 2005).


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Latraverse (2008, 3) notes that France employs a formal, universalistic definition of equality. That is, “rules are judged to meet the requirement of equality if they are the same for all. In theory, exceptions to the generality of the law are by their very nature illegal, and the principle of equality is exhaustively expressed by equality before the law.” Of course, there are instances when differential treatment occurs, but the categorization of groups for this purpose is only permitted if the criteria employed are based on purely objective indicators (e.g., socioeconomic status). Categorization on the basis of identity is not permitted and, “specifically, no circumstances are considered to justify differential treatment on grounds of ‘race’ or ‘origin’” (Latraverse 2008, 3). This has been affirmed in French case law, which does not recognize such groups as legal categories (Latraverse 2008).
  • No examples of exemptions for military personnel or police officers could be found and, given the reticence to recognize racial, ethnic or religious “groups,” it is doubtful that group-based exemptions would be granted. Such policies could only be enacted if they were based on other “neutral” grounds (e.g., social disadvantage, age, sex).
  • Although schools do provide special menus to children who do not eat pork, the wearing of religious symbols is highly restricted. As Schiff et al. (2008a, 11) point out “after a long and much publicized debate, regulations regarding the respect of the secular principle (laïcité) in schools were made more stringent and a law was instituted on March 15, 2004 which explicitly bans the public wearing ‘of signs or clothing through which students ostentatiously manifest their religious faith’ (Law n° 2004-228).”
  • In 2008, India put pressure on the French government to reconsider its ban on the turban, but President Sarkozy reiterated the principles of neutrality and secularism and noted that these apply to everyone, including Sikhs (PTI 2008).


5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Nothing in French law prevents or prohibits the holding of more than one citizenship (see Howard 2005; United States Office for Personnel Management 2001).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • In 1981, the provisions of France’s Law on Association, which was originally passed in 1901, were extended to immigrants and the foreign-born. This gave them the right to establish associations under certain conditions, as long as they respect the constitution and, in particular, the principles of secularism, equality and freedom of conscience (Delvainquière 2007).
  • This helped to establish a very active cadre of ethnic minority organizations. Many of them received funds through the Fonds d'Action Sociale (Fund for Social Action or FAS), which was set up in the late 1950s and later renamed the Fonds d'Action et de Soutien pour l'Intégration et la Lutte contre les Discriminations (Fund for Action and Support of Integration and the Fight Against Discrimination or FASILD) (see Delvainquière 2007; Schuerkens 2005). Throughout the 1990s, approximately €20 million was distributed to various groups through this fund.
  • In 2006, following the riots in Paris’s suburbs, a new agency was created—the Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities or ACSÉ—which now oversees many of the programs formally delivered through the FAS/FASILD and other agencies (Agency for Social Cohesion and Equality of Opportunity 2010). ACSÉ works to promote social cohesion, diversity, civic participation, crime prevention and anti-discrimination. It has funded more than 32,000 projects and has a grant program that associations can access to support their core operations. The ASCÉ also provides support to organizations delivering a variety of integration services, including language classes and employment initiatives (Agency for Social Cohesion and Equality of Opportunity 2010).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Schiff et al. (2008a) argue that the French school system makes very few provisions for ethnic or cultural minorities. Since 1975, there have been some courses offered in “languages and cultures of origin” (Enseignement en Langues et Cultures d’Origine—ELCO), but these are a result of bilateral agreements with various countries of origin and are not an initiative of the French government. They have also come under criticism; they are often viewed as an impediment to full integration and in contravention of the principle of equal treatment.
  • This is influenced strongly by France’s policy of not differentiating citizens on the basis of ethnic or racial origin; this makes it difficult to target programs specifically to minority children. As a result, programs that assist immigrant or minority children tend to be promoted as initiatives for “disadvantaged” children (Schiff et al. 2008a).
  • Some specialized organizations provide training in the languages most commonly spoken by immigrants (including Arabic, Portuguese, and various languages from Asia and Central and Eastern Europe). Delvainquière (2007, 22) notes that “from a general standpoint, France has been committed, for the last several years, to the development of multilingualism, in particular by increasing the number of language teaching establishments.” There are various programs available to assist in the development of multilingualism; these include self-teaching modules available at Paris’s Public Information Library, as well as language courses offered on Radio France Internationale (Delvainquière 2007).
  • Where there are bilingual classes, these tend to be focused on the instruction of one of France’s regional languages (Eurybase 2008a). Moreover, while the curriculum encourages the learning of foreign languages, this tends to be geared toward students destined for higher education, those who attend private schools, and those in the most affluent neighbourhoods; as a result, minority children tend not to be the primary beneficiaries (Schiff et al. 2008a).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Schiff et al. (2008b, 2) note that “state-initiated and state-sponsored programs, designed to help disadvantaged groups in education, employment and public services, are not explicitly aimed at particular ethnic groups. Although anti-discrimination law is quite developed and condemns all forms or differentiation according to ethnic origin in a variety of domains, there exists no French version of affirmative action based on racial or ethnic characteristics” (emphasis added). Further, even where there are policies that could be considered positive action measures targeting immigrants or minorities (including, for example, the designation of several spots at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques for students from particularly disadvantaged school districts), the initiatives are framed in terms of “merit” not on the basis of any socially relevant group characteristic.
  • French law also prohibits the collection of data on race or ethnic origin (Schiff et al. 2008b); this would render it difficult to implement or effectively monitor an affirmative action policy.

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