Publié le 08/05/2007

Christophe BERTOSSI, Vincent THOUVENIN

For a long time, French and British integration policies have formed two mutually exclusive paradigms. Based on ideological elements introduced by the French Revolution, French citizenship refuses any ethno-racial based distinction in the public sphere. In comparison with this conception of citizenship, British policies appear as an antithesis; their approach is based on the importance of minority groups and give a social and political recognition to the ethno-cultural minorities members. From an outside viewpoint, this short presentation of the dominant paradigms of citizenship in both countries has the following consequence: 'race' or 'ethnicity' seem to form the hard edge between the two countries, these concepts being rejected in France and central in Britain. Media, political discussions, academic publications have perpetuated this comparison between France and Britain, setting it up as an insurmountable opposition between two fixed and distinct 'models'. However, such an opposition seems to be out of date today. In order to account for the recent events and for some shifts in national integration policies in both countries, this paper proposes a renewed comparative approach, which challenges the 'mirror' image of a structural and essentialist opposition between French and Bristish models of citizenship and integration. Also, the paper highlights key perspectives through which it is possible to envisage how far France and Britain share a common political future as globalised and multicultural societies, in spite of still largely dominant discourses focusing on the opposition between both nations.