ECPR Standing Groups
University of Uppsala, ECPG Conference
11 - 13 June 2015

Discursive Shifts in the Making of French ‘Diversity Policy’: Towards an Intersectional Citizenship?

European Politics
Interest Groups
Sénac Réjane
Sciences Po Paris
Sénac Réjane
Sciences Po Paris
Maxime Forest
Sciences Po Paris

Our analysis will draw upon the study of the discursive politics of diversity in France from the mid-2000s onwards, which coincided with the shaping of anti-discrimination policies driven by legal developments at the EU level, and preceded the incipient interest in multiple types of discrimination. Our hypothesis is that the discursive framing of diversity, as it has emerged in France, challenges the compatibility between three competing frames: republican and liberal equality entrenched in a universalistic tradition; the politics of identity in a multicultural context and a neo-liberal approach embodied by the LEGO paradigm. From this perspective, policy reforms designed to ensure parity and diversity contribute to the establishment of institutional support for ‘conditional equality’, subordinate to the ‘performance’ of difference. Performance is both understood as a mise en scene and an added value.
In order to test this hypothesis, we cross-referenced the analysis of academic, economic, institutional and political policy documents on diversity with a qualitative survey carried out at a time when diversity was beginning to show incipient signs of institutionalization and incorporation into policy discourses (2008-2009). This study consisted in 163 personal interviews with political, institutional, economic, labor-union, religious and NGO leaders, and academics. After questioning the link between parity and diversity politics, we analysed whether the accumulation of discrimination criteria could be interpreted as a positive, albeit ambivalent type of intersectionality. An “intersectional citizenship” that would constitute both an asset to access political and economic decision-making, and an obstacle to being fully recognized as a ‘peer’.
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"Politics determines the process of "who gets what, when, and how"" - Harold Lasswell

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