Seeking social justice in France: the psycho-social effects of the Republican model of
education and its implications for Multicultural/Intercultural education.
Joseph E. Schroer
Department of Educational Studies, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, U.S.A.
Received 30 May, 2009; Final version received
Direct all correspondences to:
Joseph E. Schroer
Division of Teacher Education
College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
University of Cincinnati
P.O. Box 210022
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221
Phone: (Intl. calling code +) 513-556-3600
Fax: (Intl. calling code +) 513-556-1001
Seeking social justice in France: the psycho-social effects of the Republican model of
education and its implications for Multicultural/Intercultural education.
Starting from an examination of violence in French schools, the first part of this paper concentrates
on questions surrounding immigration and the Republican model of education. These ideas are
examined through qualitative research conducted on teachers and students in France over the past
year relating to the success of immigrants in the French education system. The second part of the
paper provides a theoretical explanation of student responses to the school structure manifest in the
spectrum between what amounts to violent and peaceful reactions to their school environment.
Given that structural and symbolic violence has psycho-social effects on individuals; particular
attention is paid to the concept of anomie. Corresponding anomic affects are examined in
theoretical writings of French education philosophy and sociological research, as well as in
American, and French, psycho-social research on identity. It is further argued that anomie is part
and parcel of identity formation and plays a key role in the cognitive formation of identity. A
theoretical model is proposed to better understand the psycho-social effects of structural and
symbolic violence on identity formation. This is given as a tool for educators of peace and social
justice embedded in the proactive Multicultural/Intercultural education of the 21st century.
French schools, Immigration, Identity formation, Intercultural Education, Peace Education
La dynamique démocrate rend illégitime toute forme d’exclusion ou de discrimination:
le projet de la modernité démocratique est d’intégrer tous les individus dans la société
nationale en tant que citoyens libre et égaux.- Dominique Schnapper
Pt. 1 La France and the Republican model of societal integration in schools
As new immigrants enter the country, the needs of the pluralistic society change and
consequently the role of education must also change so that these individuals may become
active participants in society. The project of integrating individuals into democratic societies
is given to the education system. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in France where
immigration has dominated political and educational agendas for over a decade. The
American educational system too is facing the strain of the ebb and flow of immigration.
Forming the current pedagogical response of the American education system has been some
form of multicultural education. Grounded in the historical upheaval of civil rights, and
pursuant of social justice Banks and Banks define multicultural education, “as a field of study
designed to increase educational equity for all students that incorporates, for this purpose,
content, concepts, principles, theories, and paradigms from history, the social and behavioral
sciences, and particularly from ethnic studies and women studiesquot; (1995, p. xii).
The role of multicultural education is to re-examine the normative culture and
incorporate what is new, has been left out or ignored by a static mainstream society.
Multicultural education takes into account society’s ever-changing cultural composition.
Whether we are talking about sheer numbers of minority groups, gender ideologies, religious
affiliations, or even social paradigms regarding accepted practices and laws: society is in a
constant state of flux and education systems of the 21st century will need to have the potential
and tools to change accordingly.
Correspondingly, the advent of this century has brought the successes and tribulations
of the global economy and a global society to the forefront. The education systems of many
internationally minded countries have responded through the pedagogical lens of Intercultural
Education (IE). As a global extension of multicultural education emphasizing the
relationships between cultures and focusing on cooperative learning, IE has opened the door
wide to the ever-growing and needed field of Peace Education (see Stomfay-Stitz and Hinitz
1996). In France specifically, IE has met with mixed reviews. On one side are pedagogues
who firmly believe that there is a crucial need to address social and cultural diversity in the
classroom (see Abdallah-Pretceille 2004 for a French perspective of IE). This perspective
takes a macroscopic approach of the situation from the point of view of the European Union
and is perhaps best evidenced in the ERASMUS program. On the other side of the aisle, many
see the goal of IE as being inherently anti-republic chipping away at the notion of equality
upon which French society is built. It is important to note that France is politically well
integrated into the European Union even though the primary goal of French education is to
integrate all of its individuals into the republic. So, the question becomes what exactly does
integrative education resemble in France?
To aid us in forming our perspective, several films have been made as social
commentaries depicting the climate in French classrooms. L’Esquive (Games of Law and
Chance 2004), and the more recent Entre les Murs (The Class 2008) have gained critical
acclaim for their realistic portrayals of the classroom. Furthermore, volatile social and school
climates made acute by government stances on immigration have contributed to manifest
violence in the form of the youth riots in 2005, and 2007. These examples, coupled by the
sheer numbers of immigrants, should serve as reason for any country to invest in some form
of culturally sensitive/responsive pedagogy. However, the dominant republican immigration
model assumes that multiculturalism leads to ghettoization and increased racism, as evident in
the U.K. (Haddad and Balz 2006, p.26). As one teacher told me, “teacher preparatory
programs (or UFMs) prepare teachers to pay attention to the diversity of the students and
individual learning differences, but not individual cultural differences. The French school is
above all laic!” It is important to remember that the French republic was established to
counter rule by monarchy, therefore putting the power into the hands of democratically
elected government officials who oversee the organization of life in society; ensuring the
principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité. This is in contrast to the democratic model which is
predicated on elected representatives functioning within a system of checks and balances
designed to prevent majority law from trumping individual freedom.
The French school, laic and free, is the main conduit of republican principals.
According to Limage (2000), the French public school maintains its primacy concerning
legitimate knowledge and the means to transmit it in the name of republican ideals of
neutrality, secularity and equality. The notion of individualized instruction or co-operative
learning, or making the school more responsive to the child’s culture has met with little
response as social diversity remains an out-of-school matter- a liberty accorded to the family.
In the classroom, the three essential goals reading, writing, and speaking are espoused as the
means by which children develop their identity and are able to express themselves.
Ostensibly, Multicultural Education, IE, and Peace education, do not play a significant role in
Although several of the teachers interviewed during the course of the current study
expressed curiosity in individualized instruction and cooperative learning, these concepts are
still very new in French teacher training programs. Indeed, when it comes to new, or “primo”
immigrants most teachers stated that they only react if they are approached; otherwise these
students are treated as any other student. The government provides special French language
classes for immigrant students, and they have also recently begun a new after school tutoring
program designed to equalize educational chances and prevent doubling a grade. These moves
clearly show the governments interest in individualizing instruction, but not at the detriment
of the group.
The current restructuring of teacher formation has shown the governments desire to
raise educational standards, and reduce government expenditures by producing a kind of
Highly Qualified Teacher, à la NCLB in the U.S. Recently passed is the requirement for
obtaining a teacher’s license from BAC+3 to BAC+5, effectively requiring every teacher to
obtain a Master’s before stepping foot in the classroom. This is not the first time the French
government has reacted to economic pressure by elongating the academic path of individuals.
The first time occurred in 1959 (The Debré law enacted in 1967) when public school became
obligatory until the age of 16. This move occurs at the fulcrum of a large wave of immigration
and the precipice of deindustrialization.
The effect is at the same time uniting and repressive. On one hand, republican
principles have created a highly educated and scientifically driven academic agenda, which
has carried on into this technological millennium. On the other, this move has inflated and
devalued general academic titles while increasing the difficulty of obtaining them, therefore
increasing the value of obtaining titles from the grandes écoles. Because of this contradictory
hierarchical structure within the republic (intended to ensure equality within society), social
rupture evident in school and social violence has permeated certain social spaces. The agenda
of the French education system has not only been unsuccessful at slowing the trend of social
violence, but has also been slow to curb school violence. As we can see from Table 1 below,
the average number of violent incidents reported in French schools, since the government
began keeping the statistic, is either rising, or shows no statistically significant change.
Table 1 : The average number of violent incidents reported per type of establishment recorded
between 2001 and 2006.
20 lycee gen
15 lycee pro
2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06
This is coupled by the fact that of the 82,000 incidents reported, 10% of the
establishments reported 48% of the total and 5% declared more than 33% of the total (SIGNA
2007). This concentration of violence has steadily increased since the inception of SIGNA
(the governmental agency in charge of this statistical collection). This means that there is a
concentration of schools, particularly in ZEPs (Educational Priority Zones), where the culture
of violence is not only prevalent, but increasing. This result is confirmed by several teachers
that I have interviewed as part of my research. One teacher said that, “in these schools, there
are fights every day. Students insult each other and the teachers. They have no respect for the
teachers. They tutoyer them, they insult them, attack them, they even throw rocks at their cars.
I’ve even heard of them menacing them at their homes.” This surprising result is also
confirmed by the statistics. Seven out of every ten violent incidents reported, where the
teacher is the victim, are the result of a violent or menacing attack (SIGNA 2007).
Research/Current study foundation
ZEPs represent the poorest neighborhoods in France with, coincidentally enough, the
largest concentration of immigrants. By focusing resources on areas in need, the creation of
these zones in 1981 was the government response aimed at equalizing residents’ chances of
academic success in relation to the rest of France. Several researchers have concentrated on
the juxtaposition of immigrants in schools within these milieus including, pioneering work by
Barthon (1986) and van Zanten (2001). The work of Oberti (2007) is especially influential in
defining these social spaces as the causation of segregated educational spaces reflecting, and
reproducing social inequalities. In essence, Oberti’s work paints the picture of stigmatized
neighborhood schools populated by poor/immigrant families who can neither transport to a
different school, nor use private schools because of the cost. The effect is also seen in the cité
(public housing complex) where animosity, violence, and disillusionment exist as aspirations
for social mobility dissipate (Bonelli 2008). Moreover, there are significant obstacles facing
students in ZEPs whose wish is to enter the grandes écoles, even though most universities are
accessible with a bac and at minimal cost (Hargreaves 2007). Even if they do enter an elite
school these students may still face the resentment of teachers and peers (Haddad and Balz
Much of the focus of French social and educational research over the past 20 years has
been in relation to academic and social integration of immigrants. Among others mentioned in
this paper, Vallet and Caille (1996) published the most comprehensive empirical analysis of
the educational attainment of the immigrant population in France, using the 1989 Panel of
Students in Secondary Education. A different study of immigrant families’ expectations
confirmed the argument that there are no differences in the tracks offered to native French and
immigrants, yet differences were seen between ethnic groups according to their geographical
origin (Brinbaum and Cebolla-Boado 2007). Van Zanten’s (1996; Payet and van Zanten 1996)
seminal account acknowledged 5 challenges to the Republican model moving forward into the
21st century. The questions posed by van Zanten have been pondered for several years; yet
continue to be a fairly litigious source of research among French education and sociology
Worthy of note is the fact that the French Republican model of education has actually
seen 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants succeed in relation to their language acquisition
(Bouteyre 2004). At the beginning of the 21st century the French system, like that of the
American, finds itself at the crossroads of wealth and poverty. The impoverished, who often
practice auto-exclusion, deviance, or violence perturb the ordinary functioning of the system
yet are often ignored when they position themselves into devalued social mechanisms or
educational options (van Zanten, 2006). Through this research and the work of others (see
Bonelli 2008) we find that the difference between the minority of banlieue- working class and
petit bourgeoisie- adolescents and the wealthy adolescents who succeed is that the poor must
look for material or symbolic supports in their familial, local, or educational environment.
Whereas, through school choice (ie. Private schools) and weighted access to the grandes
écoles, the wealthy must simply adhere to the culture of knowledge and education mandated
by their class.
A quantitative analysis of school leavers conducted by Silberman, Alba, and Fournier
(2007) was investigated ethnic differences in the processes of labor-market entry. They found
that groups who come from former French colonies and/or are dominated by Muslims are
substantially, if not severely, disadvantaged. By and large, they enter the labor market with
educational credentials that are on average below those of the native French, however their
much higher levels of unemployment could not be explained by educational differences.
Rather, they have suffered from discrimination in the hiring process, and their reports have a
strong plausibility. The same general finding was put forth in the qualitative study conducted
by Vienne (2003). He found that immigrant students, already relegated to professional
schools, also had difficulties being placed in apprenticeship situations. His conclusion also
fleshes out the prejudicial and discriminatory practices of the French marketplace, and
complicates Brinbaum’s findings regarding tracks from 20 years ago.
The research above indicates that education is not necessarily to “blame”, but its
unique position in society’s framework compels it react to improve the integration of
individuals, specifically immigrants, into society. Seemingly there is an important structural
problem concerning social integration with the aggravating factor being economic integration
of the various minorities. We must therefore ask ourselves, what are the resultant complexities
created by this situation? Several relevant and guiding concepts for the current research are
proposed. 1) Social integration and its psycho-social impressions on identity formation. 2)
Structural violence; sources and consequences. 3) The role of peace education as a proactive
agent of social justice under the umbrella of multicultural & intercultural education.
Study Background and Methodology
The current study was conducted in Metz, France. I was able to secure the
participation of 4 academic path high schools, 3 professional high schools, and 3 middle
schools, as well as the participation of students at the University of Metz. The study is two-
fold in nature consisting of 2, 15 question open-ended questionnaires constructed and placed
online at two different web addresses correlating to the two different focus groups;
middle/high school teachers (n=37) and college students (n=88). The questionnaires were
designed so that questions on the same topics were approached on each questionnaire. Both
questionnaires invited participants to an interview if they wished to further discuss the topics.
Other than specific demographic questions asked at the beginning to verify eligibility, and
some wording, the two questionnaires were similarly constructed. For example, teachers were
asked to describe their rapport with their students, and students were asked to reflect on the
rapport they had with their middle and high school teachers.
Eligibility for the teachers included the following; they must have been French citizens
and have taught for three years. Only three respondents out of the 40 total were eliminated
because they had taught for less than 3 years. In fact, the average respondent had 15.2 years of
experience. Students had to be French citizens and attend French middle and high school.
Recruitment material reflected a preference for immigrants and children of French
immigrants. 91 students responded to the survey. Again, only three were excluded because
they had not attended a French middle and high school, or were not French citizens. Five
teachers agreed to a tape recorded interview. All interviews were conducted in confidentiality,
and the names of interviewees are withheld by mutual agreement. All transcriptions from
French to English were made by the author.
Methodology and a number of questions for the questionnaire were taken from several
different studies conducted on French schools. Specifically, I focused on the multisite
approach by Eric Debarbieux et al. (2000), and to a smaller extent the work by Vienne (2003).
These studies, along with the work on mediation supported by Garnier (2006), provided many
of the theoretically themed questions designed to add structural validity to the study. The
intent of this design was not to explicitly match up students and teachers remarks; instead it is
focused on obtaining the perspectives of those engaged in the middle/high school situation
and those recently removed in order to compose a larger representation of social life within
the schooling establishment.
Pt. 2-Resultant Theoretical Analysis
Teachers and students were asked to describe the environment in their schools. The
vast majority of teachers and students related the “calm”, “agreeable”, “satisfying”, and
“studious” school environments present in most French schools in proportion to the statistics
on violence. Correspondingly teachers from high schools geared toward professions and/or
located in lower-income areas, mentioned the word “difficult” when describing students. In
point of fact, one teacher wrote that, “the conditions and materials needed for work, the
school grounds are functional and pleasant but the students are becoming more and more
difficult.” The notion that students are becoming more and more difficult over the past few
years was echoed by six other teachers throughout the study, and bears discussion later in the
Several students expressed the same sentiment as the preceding comment. There was,
however, a strong minority of students that expressed a very unpleasant, sometimes “violent”
environment present at the middle school level. We must remember that students in France
are filtered into professional schools after middle school, and that the students surveyed
followed the academic track to the University. From this first question the structural
complexities and differences between school environments are brought forth. We find that the
concentration of difficulties within the classroom environment exist at least by the middle
school level in most settings. Disruptions and violence in class are later manifest in
impoverished communities where professional schools dominate the structural landscape.
Van Zanten states that the educational experience in the “mauvaises classes” of
segregated establishments exists because there is a “chahut anomique”, or anomic disarray,
that teachers are powerless to control (2006, p.251). In Bourdieu’s terms, the difference in
habitus constructed between that of the family and that structured by a multiplicity of societal
interactions; education, media, peers, etc…gives rise to a sentiment of “l’incompréhension”.
A number of teachers questioned and interviewed in this study proved the veracity of Van
Zanten’s statement, however, what was most interesting within the data was that teachers
made a distinction in the rapport they have with individual students and with a class of
students. In other words, teachers focused on the poor actions of specific students resultant
from class socialization. Therefore, the process of integrating into the classroom environment
can create psychological conflicts that arise generate a state of “integrative disequilibrium”, or
anomie. So, the question becomes how do we conceptualize and respond to this
incomprehension, or integrative disequilibrium?
Particular attention can be paid to North African immigrants, French citizens and
Muslims, trying to grow up while bringing together the two types of Lebenswelt; morally
differentiated from one another (one constitutes a common restrictive moral present in their
closest social ties (see Safi 2007), and the other loose concerning integration in public
institutions). Furthermore, substructures of Occidental Europe such as legal, economic,
educational, and so forth, rooted in a Judeo-Christian tradition have become, after
secularization, at least in its republican social imaginary -non-liberal-as is the case of France.
The imbalance generated by different legal identity, and ignorance of quot;the othersquot; has caused
some distrust and segregation among different hierarchical groups.
Interestingly, anomie has been said to be most pronounced in Maghreb immigrants
living in France, especially in the 2nd and 3rd generation where cultural conflicts, notably
religious, are evident. This is sociologically linked to the difference between the two habitus
formations: primary and secondary (Bonnewitz 1998, p.73). Codol also notes the particular
cognitive conflict faced by Maghreb immigrants in France, “caught as they are between two
noticeably different cultural models and torn between what they experience in their families,
and what they experience at school, or in the street” (1982, p.277). Codol goes on to
illuminate that the cognitive significance of this “inconsistency” is detrimental to the
formation of the immigrant’s self-image.
The concept of anomie
Sociologists have commonly categorized these notions under the concept of anomie.
Anomie has a very sordid theoretical development from its inception, but it is not exactly
Durkheim’s France any longer. We must therefore, redefine this concept at its empirical and
theoretical roots in an attempt to uncover its hidden nature and effect on individuals.
The word itself comes from the Greek and is comprised of two parts. First, the prefix
a-, which means no, absence of, without, lack of, not, and second, nomia- which means law.
Although anomie was used by philosophers such as Plato and Plutarch, it was not until Jean-
Marie Guyau used it in his 1885 book Esquise d’une morale sans obligation ni sanction
(Sketch of a Morality without Obligation or Sanction) did the sociological world become
aware of the term (Orru 1983; Besnard 1988). Anomie’s birth in sociology is usually
attributed by most scholars to Emile Durkheim as he first referenced the term in his Suicide
(1897), and later in the Division of Labor in Society (1902), the former being perhaps the most
popular source of the word in the field of Sociology.
Guyau used anomie to elaborate his theory of ethics (Orru 1983). This is important to
understand because at this point in history the advent of the Industrial Revolution was
imposing itself upon modern societies. Organized religion was in decline with the advent of
secularization of states, and the fear of the decline of moral ideals was feared by many. In
contrast to Durkheim, who viewed anomie as an illness or evil of modern times (Durkheim
1897), “Guyau presented the intellectual risk of moral anomie as the challenge of the new
era” (Orru 1983). It is assumed, however, that Guyau’s neglect of the resultant class structure
of society in the Industrial era, vis-à-vis Marxism. Durkheim, who wrote at the advent of the
Industrial Revolution, Anomie is defined in The Division of Labor1 in terms of the absence of
a body of rules governing the relations between social functions (Durkheim 1902). Anomie is
most apparent in individuals during times of industrial and commercial crisis, and in the
conflict between labor and capital.
Additional concerns about anomie affecting the school structure were illuminated by
Parsons who focused on race relations and identity. Parsons believes that problems of identity
formation are, “wholly natural and to be expected in the light of anomie” (1962, p.119). What
is perhaps most interesting is that he saw the system, consisting of morals and laws, in
sluggish and irregular state of continual reorganization. This movement opens the door to ill-
defined expectations which require individuals to make autonomous decisions, “but also in
the sense that, where people feel there ought to be guidance, it is either lacking altogether or
the individual is subject to conflicting expectations that are impossible to fill at once”
(Parsons 1962, p. 113). The problems he discusses relate back to the original definition of
education espoused by Durkheim, who defined the project of education as arousing and
developing in the child, “a certain number of physical, intellectual and moral states which are
required of him both by the political society as a whole and by the special milieu for which he
is destined” (Durkheim 1922, p.51, translation in Lukes 1973, p.132). Almost all of the
teachers and students in the study echoed the following teacher’s statement regarding the role
of teachers: “I am there to transmit knowledge in a specific domain and at the same time
transmit the values permitting the individual to live as well as possible in society and integrate
as well as possible into the professional world.”
Identity Formation and Structural Violence
Correspondingly, teachers and students were asked to discuss the development of
student identity in the classroom environment. Teachers and students both related that in
France, identity formation only occurs in 4 specific ways. First and foremost, the content of
The notion of anomie was abandoned in 1902 when he cut out the 30 page introduction to his science of ethics.
He did, however, add a second preface which contained the following thought on anomie. “If anomie is an evil,
it is above all because society suffers from it, being unable to live without cohesion and regularity. A moral or
juridical regulation essentially expresses, then, the social needs that society can alone feel” (Durkheim 1902,
p.5). It was, of course, taken up again by R. K. Merton (means-end analysis) (1934; 1938) and most notably
Talcott Parsons (1962).
the course influences student identity. Second, an “esprit critique” is inculcated into the
students and is considered part and parcel of identity formation. Third, building “self-
confidence” is considered important, yet it is almost exclusive to speaking in front of groups.
Last and least mentioned was a focus on building respect of other students. Apart from these
four points, French students must define their identity on their own. Schooling and the
interaction that occurs between teachers and students in France is centered exclusively on the
formation of active French citizens.
Parsons championed critical analysis of the school system as a segue to a criticism of
the larger society; a considerable amount of the literature on the relationship between schools
and society sees schools as perpetuating pre-existing social inequalities. Bowles and Gintis‘s
correspondence theory (1976) proposes that schools function as socializing agents in
preparing students for their placement into the larger status-hierarchy; those with larger
amounts of human, social, and cultural capital will be sorted, prepared, and credentialed for
leadership positions and professions, while those with lesser amounts will be prepared for
subservient, powerless (working class) positions (Bowles and Gintis 1976; Bourdieu and
Passeron 1977). Schools do not introduce inequality, but instead validate and reinforce pre-
existing arrangements of the larger society.
Inequalities are therefore imbedded in social structures and are perpetuated by the
social norm. Structural inequalities are forms of structural violence which is defined by
Galtung (1969) as, “violence that is built into the structure as unequal power and consequently
as unequal life chances” (p.171). The structure is predicated on the idea that those with power
have control over resources such as education and health care. Moreover, those in power are
also the decision makers in the distribution of those resources. The effect is later manifest in
internal violence and external violence. Stemming from his research in France and America,
Wacquant (2008) elucidates three main components of structural violence which include mass
unemployment, relegation to decaying neighborhoods, and heightened stigmatization.
One component of structural violence is the socio-cultural reproduction of stigma.
This means that structural violence also has an obvious impact on an individual’s perception
of their symbolic environment. The psychological impact of structural violence is further
clarified through the work of Frantz Fanon in his book, The Wretched of the Earth. Fanon
explains that, “when the native is confronted by the colonial order of things, he finds he is in a
state of permanent tension” (Fanon 1961, p.52). The understanding that Fanon posits is the
foundation for a source of psychological violence perpetrated upon the individual by the
societal structure. It is an unconscious self-reflexive form of violence, which results in other
forms of violence within the individual’s relative social structure, and against the external
Nicolas Sarkozy has made it a top priority of his administration to overhaul the French
education system. Teachers and students in this study were asked to elaborate upon the
positive and negative aspects of the system. 51% of students surveyed critiqued the
unpractical curriculum with specific reference to the lack of relevance to professional
application of what they learn. The teachers expressed a myriad of different, often political
opinions. One notion that was prevalent, however, was their desire for schools to be more
experiential; particularly, for schools to have not only rules and regulations mirroring
companies (specifically at professional schools), but also more “practical” experiences. They
want smaller classes so they can “individualize” and give attention to students who ask. One
teacher with 35 years experience from a professional high school wrote, “Society is changing
and our teaching changes little, the youth are bored, and they can no longer sustain all of the
work and effort. Everything is made for a society of leisure and we oblige the youth to work.
Moreover, they know that unemployment is waiting for them, it is anxiogenic (a producer of
In her influential American study, Goldstein (2005) confirms that students and
teachers could name the dehumanizing symbolic and institutional power and violence in
schools (p.46). This result can also be established in France through the results of the current
study, and that of Vienne (2003). Case in point, one student identifying as French/North
African wrote that she has, “not had the means to achieve her goals for French schools have a
tendency to stigmatize a portion of the population”. The dehumanizing affects of structural
and symbolic violence must therefore be taken into account when examining identity
formation. An abbreviated literature review shows that there are multiple identity formation
models and stage concepts pertaining to Ethnic Identity Formation (Banks 19842 ; Phinney
1989), White (Helms 1990; Knowles and Peng 2005; Croll 2007) and African-American
identity (Wiggan 2008) in the United States. None of the models and figures mentioned
account for the effects of structural and symbolic violence. Identity process models;
moreover, reduce resistance and increase support for learners (McAlister and Irvine 2000).
Therefore, based upon Knowles and Peng’s empirically based model of identity formation and
social consequences, and the empirical and theoretical foundation presented in this paper, the
following theoretical model can be formulated.
Figure 1. Model of the formation and effects of self-norm group identification: Social
Identity antecedent Self-image-Identity formation Consequences of social identification
Social Exposure Relational
to norm’s race Linking of Self
Gender, class, & and norm-group
concepts of Integration/
self & norm division
religious Peace & Social
perspective Relational Justice =/=
According to the model, as an individual integrates into society anomie (indicated by
the broken lines) plays a role as the psycho-social reflection of socio-cultural facts represented
in the individual’s environment. It plays a role in regulating identity formation and individual
behavior as evident in the bonding between the self and norm-group. Anomie is further
regulated by an individual’s sense of relational power over one’s material and social
environment. Theoretically, a positive self-image results from a strong sense of relational
power, and low anomie. Moreover, a negative self-image resulting from an extreme anomic
perception, poor identity antecedents, and low relational power, could result in depression,
which has been shown to be a key factor in school violence (Favre 2007). In this sense,
anomie becomes intertwined with Durkheim’s notion of social regulation, in which societal
facts place limits on individual’s aspirations through normative or emotional definitions. I
Bank’s typology is psychologically and socio-historically grounded. Further, the 6 stages; ethnic psychological
captivity, ethnic encapsulation, ethnic identity clarification, bi-ethnicity, multi-ethnicity and reflective
nationalism, and globalism and global competency are predicated on many terms founded in this paper.
would argue that social regulation and anomie mediate the influences between the dialectic of
social integration and deviant behaviour.
In Le Sens Pratique (1980) and Choses Dites (1987), Bourdieu characterizes habitus
as an internal structure acquired by the individual through the course of socialization, and
continually in the course of restructuration. He goes on to say in Réponses (co-written with
Wacquant 1992) that, “the dialectic of subjective hopes and objective chances is everywhere
in the composition of the social world” (p.105). In examination of the model proposed,
habitus can be conceived as the dialectical cognitive construction of self-image, or identity.
With this understanding we can conclude that identity formation is a type of cognitive
integration on the individual’s part developed through the course of his or her interactions
with the environment (Codol 1982). Moreover, identity formation is a multilayered process
that does not follow a uni-linear directional path. In other words, it is fluctuant in nature. In
his Phenomenology of the Mind, Hegel discusses the dialectic flux between desire and self-
consciousness in the development of the notion of mind or spirit (1910). This instability
within identity formation has been the essence of our description of anomie, and of the
emotional reactions of immigrants and marginalized students engaged in the process of
integration and identity formation.
In an influential chapter, Garnier (2006) asks the question: “Can the teacher be a
mediator?” He believes that the teacher-mediator can bring more cohesion to a class by
reducing the chance for equilibrium to be distorted. This action in turn puts more of an
emphasis on the group dynamic and provides an escape from the “personification of conflict”.
In this way, he says, conflict can be “envisioned as a social construct and not uniquely as a
psychological problem” (2006, p.64). The same question was posed to teachers and students
in this study. Students were ambivalent citing few cases of teacher mediation. However, they
did mention the “conseil de class” where students can discuss problems they are having with
other students or teachers to a lead teacher. The lead teacher can then act as a student-teacher
mediator in resolving the conflict.
Teachers, too, were a bit ambivalent to the idea. Fifty-two percent did not see
themselves as mediators at all, and only 23% saw it as a unique role the teacher plays within
the classroom environment. Less than 8% saw their mediator role extending further than the
classroom, ie. student-school, student-society. One teacher wrote that, “this is what they are
expecting more and more of teachers: as mediators: socio-cultural psychologists deciphering
[for the students] the values of our society, but there is little time.” Paradoxically, only 16% of
the teachers surveyed said that when there was conflict in their classrooms the resolution was
tabled to be resolved by someone other than the teacher, except in cases of extreme violence.
Interestingly, throughout the teacher surveys on the question relating to conflicts in the
classroom 12% mentioned the cause being a “truc de filles”, or girl issues. The areas of girls
and violence, and student speech were two issues uncovered that bear future investigation.
Disrespectful and sometimes pejorative language arose as an issue throughout the teacher
As Bourdieu explicates in La Distinction (1979), immigrants in today’s France face
steep odds in their quest to achieve the credentials necessary to legitimize their cultural capital
and climb the social ladder. The dialectical tension between integration and pluralism has
markedly exacerbated anomic dissidence among immigrants since the passage of Loi No.
2004-224 banning ostensible wearing of religious symbols in public middle and high schools.
Segmented-assimilation into the market place has also contributed significantly given that
economic success can be perceived as a determining factor of integration. Spatial segregation,
and continued political pressure on immigrants is also inflating social barriers. While the
French school espouses republic ideals of equality, it paradoxically occupies space within
liberal-democratic social ideology that rewards credentials. Without any ostensible form of
Intercultural/Multicultural education under the Republican model of education structural
injustices have perpetuated unchecked, while pluriculturalism, segregation and violence has
There is some solace in the fact that there are some ZEP schools successfully
following the Freinet pedagogy (1964) of experiential knowledge and concept mediation.
There is also the ERASMUS program that combines intercultural and experiential knowledge.
And there are of course individual teachers who truly focus on respect and tolerance. There
are also history teachers that not only speak of war, but as one wrote, “I insist also on the role
of the European Union, since 1957, in the maintenance of peace in Europe.” The juxtaposition
of a peace oriented intercultural education can be a positive way for France to mediate its
social injustices while focusing on the macroscopic structure of Europe. Infusing peace
education with multicultural education develops teachers into peace keepers-builders; peace
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Note about the Author: Joseph is a PhD. Candidate in the field of Educational Studies at the
University of Cincinnati under the guidance of Dr. Marvin J. Berlowitz. His areas of interest
include; educational psychology, identity formation, immigration, Peace education, conflict
resolution, and social justice. He has presented at numerous conferences on topics relating to
French immigration, and Environmental Peace.