Since the Left returned to power in 1997, there have been remarkable changes in the debate over the “integration” of immigrant minorities in France. After a long period in which political elites emphasized the challenges associated with minority ethnic cultures and social disadvantage, the spotlight has shifted to the blockages arising from racial discrimination by members of the majority ethnic population. No less remarkably, there has been a significant abatement in the demonization of so-called Anglo-Saxon approaches to the management of ethnic relations, habitually branded by politicians and civil servants as the antithesis of France’s “républicain” model of integration.
Antidiscrimination Policy in France
Alec G. Hargreaves
Public Policy Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in France
Alec G. Hargreaves
The inadequacy of government efforts to curb discrimination against postcolonial minorities, referred to in everyday discourse as “Arabs,” “Muslims,” and “blacks,” is a major weakness in French public policy, feeding resentment that contributes to violent extremism. The first part of this article presents a brief overview of the main policy frames that have been adopted towards postcolonial immigrant minorities in France. The second section examines the development of public policy against racial and ethnic discrimination, highlighting serious limitations with particular reference to police racism, ethnically-based data-gathering, and the Haute Autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité (HALDE). The third section reviews evidence documenting the high levels of discrimination experienced by racial and ethnic minorities and the ineffectiveness of efforts to combat it. The fourth offers an explanatory framework for the fitful and largely unproductive nature of those efforts.