Built upon the principles of the Enlightenment, modern France has the equality of all citizens as its core national values. The majority of French are the descendants of three main ethnic groups (Celtic, Latin and Teutonic (Frankish)), while migrants account for 13.1% of the population (IOM 2020b). However, the constitution affirms that France recognizes no minorities “whether they be ethnic, religious, linguistic or other.” For centuries, France has adopted assimilationist social policies in relation to its culturally diverse population. While the government considers its integration policy as a two-way process assigning responsibility to migrants and the state, migrants are generally expected to integrate into the French culture and society (Tolley 2011). Several organizations and government agencies are tasked with facilitating the assimilation process.
France doesn’t support multiculturalism although it remains a culturally diverse country with significant number of migrants and ethnic minorities. The national curriculum mentions respecting other cultures, yet, neither multiculturalism nor interculturalism has been adopted in education. While the constitution has provisions giving the right of association for ethnic minority groups, there is no support for bilingual education, ethnic representation in media, and exemption for dress codes.
France has achieved an overall ICDI score of 0.700, a high score in the current articulation of the ICDI results. A strong score of 1 in the component of Anti-discrimination and relative high score in the component of multiculturalism contribute to France’s strong legislative and policy environment. High scores above 0.8 in the components of attitudes, freedom and rights signal favourable intercultural attitudes amongst the population. On the other hand, a high score of above 0.8 in the component of Fractionalisation signals ethnic, lingual, and religious fractures in the country, thereby, weakening the structural dimension. France is one of the most popular tourist destinations. However, relatively low scores in the components of social contact, and access to communication signal that there is low levels of cultural participation and social cohesion. This could also be evident through low numbers of living indigenous and immigrant languages.
Current Situation and Outlook
Compared to its positive situation pertaining to the legislative dimension and opportunities dimensions, France achieves a moderate score in some of the components of the structural dimension. France could encourage and facilitate increased minority representation, which will aid in strengthening the Inclusion score. This will contribute to the country’s structural dimension as opportunities for interaction and dialogue emerge, mitigating the negative effects of diversity.