Foreigners in French Society Essay Example
Attitude towards immigrants is characterized by many factors: state’s support, ease of finding work, presence of prejudices, and daily attitude towards immigrants of the local population. In some countries, new citizens are dissolved among the locals. However, in the majority of countries, they live in certain areas, preserving their culture and traditions. France is one of many countries that attract thousands of immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Georgia, and other countries. The reasons for immigration are different: visa for academic, refugee status, employment contract, or marriage with French citizens. France was considered the only European country that stimulated immigration in the postwar period in order to enlist labor force for the country. Nevertheless, particular latest terrorist attacks, which were made by immigrants or their descendants, have forced people to review the reasons for these extreme actions. Integration of immigrants is specified by certain factors such as the ability to access the labor markets, the degree of occupational mobility, knowledge of the language, age, education, the overall level of development, the influence of the mass media, plans for the future, the type of public relations, and the attitude of the local population. The possible causes of the discontent among the immigrants, which finds its expression in various riots, demonstrations and terrorist’s attacks, can be understood by tracing and evaluating the changes in the attitude towards immigrants in France, where the policies, political parties, economy, and social media create particular difficulties for foreigners.
Now, migration has become an important factor of modern life. It has a significant impact on the economic, political, and social life of many countries, including France, where immigrants or their descendants make up a large part of the population. Currently, in this country, more than a third of all the French citizens have ancestors-immigrants, or those who once came to the country to settle there permanently. This gives the right to say that the problem of immigration touches upon the history of many French families. Immigrants make up a large proportion of workers in certain sectors of the economy, particularly in those where a large scale is given to manual labor (textile, food, leather, construction, and other industries). Immigrant workers account for up to half or even more of those involved in unskilled labor. According to Dunham, 8.8 percent of French population is immigrants. “From 2004 to 2012 an average of 200,000 migrants arrived on French shores every year” (Dunham). Despite the belief that Africans constitute the biggest portion of immigrants, they counted only 30 percent in 2012, whereas 46 percent of immigrants were Europeans. Dunham emphasizes that “France’s immigrant population is rising at an average of 1.6 percent per year.”
The beginning of migration flows to France accounts for the 19-20th centuries. The reasons for this phenomenon include demographic and economic circumstances present of that time. The low birth rate in the country caused serious concern in French society. Government appeal to make children was converted to all social strata and groups. Immigration also played a special role in this process. The fact that France experienced the lack of cheap labor could explain the massive influx of immigrants mostly of European descent who had arrived to the country looking for employment. Moreover, they settled not only in the border areas, but also in central France. Italians were among the first immigrants. They were engaged in low-paid, unskilled labor, which was extremely beneficial to the local entrepreneurs. By the end of World War I, the character of immigration to France changed qualitatively. Since then, it has been associated with industrialized development of the country and became traditional reason for immigration. In the postwar period, the French capital sought to develop mainly labor immigration, which had led to significant changes in its social structure. Having taken a course for controlled importation of workers, the state tried to provide workforce to those industries and agriculture that had widely used low skilled and unskilled labor (construction, mining, iron and steel industry as well as some types of heavy and dangerous work in other branches of industry). During the war, the transition to organized collective labor recruitment in the French possessions began. This was carried out by specifically created service of colonial workers. It should be noted that the contract system of employment significantly reduced wages.
France’s immigration policy has become even less tolerant since 2006. A new immigration and integration law was adopted on July 25, 2006 (Chou and Baygert). It supports high-skilled migration and limits family reunification. The law meant that only relevant people would be allowed to enter the country. The majority of poor and unemployed foreigners were left behind. The law was targeted at dramatically reducing the influx of immigrants from outside the EU as well as deporting a significant part of illegal immigrants. According to the innovation, migration services dramatically reduce the number of immigrants with inadequate education and minimal skills (Chou and Baygert). Every year, the government forms a quota on the number of jobs that might be claimed by foreigners. All other workers will have to pass strict control to live in France. The law worsened the position of the so-called mixed families, in which one spouse was a citizen of France, and the second did not have the French citizenship. For a foreigner in such a pair, government greatly increased term of residence, which was aimed at fighting with fictitious marriages. The reunification of families also became more difficult. If earlier, an immigrant was able to bring the whole family to France, now it will be possible only if he has a high-paying job and adequate housing. This law caused a wave of protests. Young people smashed and burned cars and shops. Children and grandchildren of immigrants, who were born in France and had French citizenship, constituted the greater number of the rioters. They protested against discrimination of ethnic and religious minorities that existed in the country before the new law. To stop the riots, in most parts of the country, a curfew was implemented. Only force managed to stop the wave of protests.
The rise of the far right party that opposed immigration evidenced that nationalism had always been a powerful force in French politics. The lingering global crisis became the ideal food to continue its active development. During the 2012 presidential election, the right-wing party National Front gained almost 20 percent, a record for all time of its existence (“The Role of the National Front in the 2002 French Presidential Elections”). The centerpiece of the ideological aspects of the party was taken by the idea that immigration presented a threat to national identity.
National Front was founded by Jean-Mari Le Pen, who used anti-Semitic ideas and Catholic fundamentalism. It should be noted that the party did not immediately receive national recognition and support. Only after correction of ideological basis in the mid-1980s, which was based on the priority of discussing immigration, law and order, it began to achieve popularity (Posta 251).
The party considers immigrants, especially Muslims, the main threat to national identity and national security of France. In this respect, the party treats the representatives of other nations and peoples of Europe, particularly the Roma, the same. Representatives of the Eastern European countries are also considered as unfriendly elements. Political platform of National Front protects law and order. The party calls for not showing tolerance in the fight against organized crime and actively protecting civil order.
In modern French society, immigrants face such difficulties as finding jobs and assimilating into the mainstream society. A tendency to increase length of stay of immigrants and formation of the new multinational community in France has put forward the problem of integration of immigrants in the socio-economic structure of the country. The adaptation of immigrants is two-sided: the changes taking place in the social value system of the immigrants and the host society.
While in the United States, immigrants with poor knowledge of English face certain understanding, immigrants without the knowledge of the French language will experience many difficulties in France. People of brainwork, who came to show themselves, are referred to with indifference. After all, in France, there are enough unemployed citizens. There is also problem with easy work: light physical labor is almost canceled for women.
Slavic immigrants have sincere and open character. In contrast, the mentality of the French implies inconsistency, the duality of nature. In addition, French people are very meager. Women in the marriage are often treated negatively. The majority of women remain in the country out of despair, suffering from humiliation, persecution, and even physical abuse. This is probably the most common violation of the rights of the immigrants. However, not all new families are haunted by bad luck, as there are quite happy couples.
Naturally, as in any country, the locals do not like immigrants, but it is not spoken out openly. The authorities set up special institutions that provide employment assistance for immigrants. Furthermore, there are agencies that support newcomers in the rapid implementation of the cultural and social life of the country. In France, the good attitude to immigrants is marked from the authorities. They organized a fund to assist immigrants in anything they might need. At the same time, the fund is actively combating discrimination.
Until the end of the 1980s, immigration and integration policy of the state in relation to foreign nationals and stateless persons, who sought asylum in France, existed in parallel. It was only in 1991, when the government embarked on special reforms aimed at creating a French model of integration, when appropriate amendments and additions to the legislation of the country were made. French political integration model is based on the principle of acquiring nationality, i.e. citizenship. Under the French law, in accordance with democratic traditions, there are no provisions that discriminate foreigners in comparison with French citizens. Foreigners enjoy the same civil, social, and economic rights as other citizens. However, political rights are secured only for the French citizens. For example, regulations and measures to combat unemployment or vocational integration do not consider immigrants as a special part of the population (“French Issues”).
Despite the fact that the government pays great importance to the organization of joint kindergartens for children of immigrants and the local population, in recent years, greater emphasis has been made on sustaining the level of native language among foreigners. Thus, the authorities hope that a certain number of immigrants return to their homelands. The school system also encounters difficulties. Thus, there are a limited number of special schools in national languages. Despite the fact that schooling is compulsory for all children, including foreign ones, a significant number of the latter do not attend school. No less acute problem is the low level of knowledge of children. At the same time, French families, which belong to the middle class, resort to all sorts of tricks to avoid sending their children to schools with a high percentage of immigrant children. Therefore, French schools are divided into institutions that form elite groups and those that are not prestigious. Both of them are characterized by social or ethnic homogeneity. Immigrants are also a vulnerable category of workers due to the language barrier, low levels of education and training. In this regard, unemployment among foreigners remains stable high. The vast majority of immigrants are employed in low status and low-paid jobs, which French people do not want to do.
Racial conflicts have occurred in all spheres of life and activity and been expressed in various forms. The most obvious cases of direct physical impact were beating the colored people, hooligan actions against immigrants and their families. Sometimes, such an attack ends by tragedy: severe injury or death of immigrants.
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A major role in introducing immigrents to the socio-economic life of the host country belongs to the media. Ethnic newspapers have always played a major role in communication between the immigrants themselves. The same role belongs to the ethnic radio and television. Nevertheless, social media is also used to provide negative image of immigrants in France. Thus, there is number of websites that emphasize on riots and terrorism instead of talking about the treatment of French government towards immigrants. In particular, Kern paid a lot of attention to terrorism, violence, and demonstration among immigrant population. In such a way, the article contributes to the development of negative stereotypes. Moreover, Hargreaves states that French television shows minority ethnic groups as problems (158). Sitcoms, game shows, and other programs contribute to the perception of French people that immigrants do not fit in their community. The recent case deals with terrorist attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in the center of Paris. Previously, it suffered from arson after the announcement of the release number called Sharia Ebdo with indicating the Prophet Mohammed as editor. There were no casualties, but the site of the publication was hacked.
In conclusion, discrimination and anti-immigrant policy are the fundamental reason for terrorist attacks. France and the entire Europe entered the 2015 completely different. A series of audacious terrorist attacks, which ended by protracted persecution and death of terrorists, forced Western society to face new issues. The challenge that has arisen for French society might be the trigger of more violence or even war if not enough attention is paid to it. Immigrants will be so dissatisfied that they will cause more events similar to burning cars in suburbs and the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The executers of the last attacks were young French citizens, born and bred in this country, who went to a French school, not knowing distant countries. However, they did not manage to find their place in French society due to their ethnicity. Distrust to government policy, deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the country after the economic crisis, negative impact on the living standards, growing problems of integration of Afro-Arab population lead to the radicalization of the views of the French. There is a growth of popularity of right ideologies and parties, primarily the National Front that advocate tightening of immigration policy. As a result, the restrictions, anti-immigration laws, discrimination, and stereotypes cause the growth of dissatisfaction among immigrants, which results in violence and riots. In order to prevent possible increase in terrorism actions and demonstrations, it is important to provide more tolerant politics towards foreigners. In addition, in modern world, everyone should have the same rights no matter what race they belong to or religion they affiliate themselves with.