Fecha de publicación:
Riva Kastoryano and Angéline Escafré-Dublet

This chapter describes the diversity of the French population and explores the institutions that try to accommodate diversity in France. It also shows how the notion of cultural diversity has emerged in national debates and when. First, we will outline the main historical events in the formation of the State and national identity to understand the challenge of cultural diversity in the French context. It will be seen that the formation of the French State is connected to the idea of national identity in a manner that emphasizes the notion of the individual over the group and, formally, does not allocate space for the acknowledgement of diversity in the public arena. Secondly, we will explore how issues have emerged which were perceived as resulting from the diversity of the population and how they have been approached and dealt with. This will lead us to identify what kinds of identities are perceived as different and/or challenging in the French context. Thirdly, we will explore the concept of tolerance in France. We will look at the concept of laïcité and see how it has been used to accommodate religious diversity in France. Does it foster tolerance towards religious expression? We will see that laïcité has been used to deal with tensions resulting from the purportedly religious character of post-colonial migrants and we will discuss its reassessment in response to the concern about Islam.