Xenophobia on a Suburban Paris Housing Estate

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Xenophobia has become a politically charged phenomenon in France, and is often linked to matters of daily life on suburban housing estates. Haegel's article is based on a survey conducted among the inhabitants of a Parisian housing estate called 'La Cité des 4000 logements'. Remarks about immigrants took up much time and space throughout the interviews. The analysis of these remarks could only be successful by taking account of the context in which they were made, and the several motives that might lead to the expression of illegitimate opinions. The basis of the xenophobic discourse recorded in the survey is unquestionably the dichotomyus/ them. From it flows spatial references (the marking of territory) and temporal ones (the Golden Age and The Fall). (In many ways, the situation is identical to that analysed by Norbert Elias and John Scotson inThe Established and the Outsiders, although one difference is that 'the established' in 'the 4000' don't have real 'group charisma': they have at present neither a strong communal life nor social cohesion.) The central paradigm of the xenophobic discourse seems to behospitality, which implies, by definition, the granting of space, the playing of host to a foreigner in one's own space, rather than allowing the foreigner a place of his or her own. With the continuing settlement of immigrants in France, this is a paradigm that will have to change.

Keywords: Front national; ethnocentrism; housing estate; immigration; interviews; spatial identity; suburban Paris; xenophobia

Document Type: Miscellaneous

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/003132200128810766

Affiliations: Centre d'étude de la vie politique françaises, Paris, France

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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