Bridging the culture gap : conflict management programs between immigrants and French society in marginalized communities in Paris
Holman, Katlan Shier
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France continues to see a widening cultural divide between immigrants and the greater French society. The French government and non-governmental organizations have implemented programs to try and address the differences that exist in the French Republic. This study examines programs implemented in Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb of Paris, by non-governmental organizations that impact the lives of immigrants. To discover what impact these programs are having on the cultural divide in Seine-Saint-Denis, interviews were held with seven organizations that deliver programs in the area. These organizations were specifically selected due to the inclusion of Interactive Conflict Resolution components in their programs, namely face-to-face interaction in training, education, or language. The results showed that while face-to-face interaction were seen as having an impact on bridging the cultural divide, the inability to address the cultural differences directly due to France’s laws surrounding differentiation and equality, led to superficial and politically sanitized programs that would not prevent the escalation of the conflict into intractability. The results suggest that while these organizations benefit the quality of life for marginalized people, to have a direct and lasting effect on the escalating cultural conflict in France, they need to go farther than superficial interactions between participants or providing administrative tools that paper the cracks of the French system. To avoid future violence and escalating human security concerns, the Government of France should implement programs that uses dialogue, analysis, and problem-solving to explore the subjective, psychological social identity differences between immigrants and the greater French society. The government can do this by relaxing the stringent laws around gathering ethnic data, creating a central repository for program evaluations and oversight, and including the notion of equity in the Republic’s definition of equality.
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