Citizen and stranger: a study of second generation postcolonial immigrants in France

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/16339
Title: Citizen and stranger: a study of second generation postcolonial immigrants in France
Author: Stenbäck, Jenny
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology
Date: 2009-04-06
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/16339
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: The thesis analyzes the constraints of democratic citizenship experienced by the children of postcolonial immigrants in France. The initial question was whether they belong to the French polity as equal citizens and then, what implication their participation, or non-participation, has on society at large. The thesis started with the hypothesis that these people experience a discrepancy between theoretical republican ideas about citizenship and the practical outcome. The study is based on two months of fieldwork in the popular suburbs of Paris. A practice-centred approach is used, focusing on agency primarily in what democratic theory defines as the public sphere. Specific attention is paid to local associational engagement. The hierarchical categorization of people and the values behind it are studied against the value of equality. Identity-related questions are also treated and references are made to the concepts of hybridity and dialectical change; ideas central in postcolonial studies. The analysis of interviews focuses on discourse with special attention paid to the multivocality of speech. The children of postcolonial immigrants are not completely marginalized, although they are less visible nationally. The thesis examines their constant attempts to elude categorization and the possibility for them to exercise agency and autonomy despite their dominated position. The deception and the setbacks are the price they pay for it, and the situation emanates in contradictory strategies and attitudes. These youths, with their actual or ascribed otherness, pose a symbolic threat to the values underlying the organization of French society. By means of their activity, as well as by their mere presence, they blur the boundaries of established categories and therefore challenge the hierarchy of people. Because this hierarchy is grounded upon certain symbolic values that are fundamental to society, the immigrants are seen as a threat to society and to what it means to be French. The thesis brings forward the concept of the hybrid nation. Speaking of the hybridity of the nation implies the acknowledgement of multiple identities interacting within the nation-state and the consequential excess of categories; the transformation of old values and the creation of new ones. The thesis also demonstrates the importance of belonging; the necessity of a social polity in which one can exercise and demand one's rights.
Description: Endast sammandrag. Inbundna avhandlingar kan sökas i Helka-databasen (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Elektroniska kopior av avhandlingar finns antingen öppet på nätet eller endast tillgängliga i bibliotekets avhandlingsterminaler.Only abstract. Paper copies of master’s theses are listed in the Helka database (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Electronic copies of master’s theses are either available as open access or only on thesis terminals in the Helsinki University Library.Vain tiivistelmä. Sidottujen gradujen saatavuuden voit tarkistaa Helka-tietokannasta (http://www.helsinki.fi/helka). Digitaaliset gradut voivat olla luettavissa avoimesti verkossa tai rajoitetusti kirjaston opinnäytekioskeilla.


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