Multiculturalism in France

Catherine Wihtol de Wenden

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Abstract

Although France is de facto a multicultural society, historically this interpretation has been very much contested by the Jacobin tradition which has been opposed to the right to be different, pluralism and group rights. Recent presidential elections and the rise of the National Front appear to confirm this reading. However, ideological multiculturalism has begun to make inroads into the French model of citizenship through the political accommodation of migrant groups, especially at the local level. Ideological multiculturalism is the only way to maintain a strong and vibrant French identity, open to the new challenges of globalisation, migration flows, diversity of religions and plural allegiances to nations and states. In France, like most democracies, the rise of claims for difference means that the republican model of integration has no other choice but to negotiate with multiculturalism.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Wihtol de Wenden, Catherine. Multiculturalism in France. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2003, vol. 5, no.1, pp. 77-87. UNESCO. ISSN 1564-4901. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol5/issue1/art5

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