"Maintaining the Class"

Teachers in the New High Schools of the Banlieues

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Over the past twenty years, a silent revolution brought 70 percent of a generation to the baccalauréat level (up from 33 percent in 1986), without ensuring students corresponding job opportunities. Sociologists have analyzed the impact of this educational democratization, which sought to solve the economic crisis by adapting the younger members of the French workforce to the new economy of services: it has paradoxically accentuated the stigmatization of youths from working-class and immigrant families who live in suburban housing projects. Therefore, high school teachers have had to deal with students' profound disillusionment with education. Moreover, teachers have been central to all of the recent political controversies in France regarding cultural difference. While there are books, pamphlets, and memoirs reflecting their experiences, there is no research exploring the discrepancy between high school teachers' expectations and those of their predecessors. This article explores this discrepancy and its contribution to the social and political construction of the "problème des banlieues."

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