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The Intertwining of Laïcité and Ethnicity: Observations from Teachers’ Practices in State Schools in Provence

TitleThe Intertwining of Laïcité and Ethnicity: Observations from Teachers’ Practices in State Schools in Provence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLaborde V, Silhol G
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published11/2018
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordsethnic boundaries, France, laïcité, policy implementation, secularism

In an approach which complements studies of youth experience, we analyze ethnicity by focusing on situations and actions through which teachers, managers and experts deal with diversity. As it considers discursive categories and institutional constraints, this approach underlines the role of informality and ordinary practices that present ethnicity as occupying a minority status in schools. In this article, we study references to ethnicity in the implementation of a national teacher-training policy in relation to laïcité, the system of secularism particular to France. This qualitative study took place in a local education authority in Provence. It shows that the truth regime of laïcité generates contradictory, potentially conflictual advice and instructions vis-à-vis ethnicity, according to social position and professional ethics. To the extent that ethnicity can be an unexpected dimension of the implementation of this policy, it illustrates the relevance of analyzing local practices and reflexivity in the management of diversity in schools.