15 / 2002
James Cohen

Inequality and Difference: Current Sociological Challenges to the French »Republican Model of Integration«

The author presents a widened and controversial French concept of social integration of immigrants, which he names “the republican model of integration.” The model contains ideological presumptions of social equality through a unitarian comprehension of the universalistic concept of the public sphere of life. France is one of the countries that is developing and advocating that model, although polemics have been proving its inconsistent characteristics above all in practice. The author follows two currents of sociological discussion in France that tend to change the comprehension of citizenship and the relation towards ethnic diversity. The goal of public and expert discussions on the subject is to overcome some republican values, which are an obstacle for the development of cultural pluralism. The changes would enable the government to serve better the recognition or distinction between citizenship and ethnic identification of immigrants in regard of their origin.