French citizenship or the anti-communitarianism

by Marin Enault

By studying immigration in the United States, I noticed how much the vision of the migrants was different compared with France’s vision. The history of both countries being completely different, it seems that it influences the conception of the immigration. It seems interesting to compare sociologically these two ideologies as well as their result.

Countries as the United States, Australia or New Zealand built themselves thanks to the colonizing immigrants. This special past is important in the idea which these countries have of immigration: Immigration is always massive, wished, checked and presented as a strength. The multicultural society of the United States is described as a wealth, responding to a logic of market.

The public policies that control the immigration’s flow according to certain criteria: countries, languages, professional qualifications… This “chosen” immigration policy entails the creation of ethnic communities, sharing the same characteristics. In the US we can speak about South American, Asian or Black communities, which are themselves divided into an infinity of national or cultural communities. It is a large-scale communitarianism: the immigrants live parallel existences while sharing the same nationality.

European countries, in particular France, have a different immigration culture. Even if the number of immigrants is important (nearly 160,000/year), France sees the communitarianism as something bad, as a failure of the integration. Partially because this country is the heir of a long republican tradition, France pursues the dream of “republican messianism”: the French nation is one and indivisible: the origin, the color and the culture of an emigrant disappear since he becomes French. So the French state refuses to see ethnic communities on its territory, simply French citizens, without any other criterion of distinction.

To describe this ideal, Ernest Renan spoke about a “national project”, a nation based on the “will to live together”. However, today this myth seems unrealistic : it seems that the French nation, in spite of its historic will, does not integrate any more her immigrants as well as the native-born French people. Although the theory of the communitarianism is always refused by the political elite, ethnic groupings nevertheless built up themselves. The migrants, due to the lack of economic integration, live in the same poor suburbs areas. The myth of a “French-style” citizenship collapsed: the secularism loses its sense when the school holidays are based on the Christian calendar while in certain high schools the majority of the students are Muslim.

France always ideologically refused the creation of subgroups within the French citizenship, however it turns out that the economic reality does not allow any more the same integration for all.

To convince itself, it is enough to look at the exam’s results of the Parisians elite’s high schools compares to the very close high schools, considered as difficult, where the students are mainly sons of immigrants. Not recognizing communitarianism doesn’t makes it disappear, quite the contrary.

References

Costa-Lascoux, Jacqueline : « L’intégration « à la française » : une philosophie à l’épreuve des réalités »

Renan, Ernest. « What is a Nation? »

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Chinese immigrants in New Zealand: A case of educational optimism?

by Yuriko Otsuka

New Zealand is not only known for sheep and agriculture, but it is also known as a country which has a lot of immigrants. The population of New Zealand was about 4,252,277 people in 2010, and in that, the Chinese immigrants were about 85,477 people, which placed them as second among the immigrant nationalities in New Zealand (Peoplemovin, 2010). I stayed in New Zealand for a year since I had an opportunity to study abroad, and when I interacted with my Chinese friends, they told me about their life in China. Their parents had high expectation of their child’s grades, and told me that one of the reasons they came to New Zealand as an exchange student is to avoid the pressures from their parents; especially their mother. Chinese mothers, parents are way strict compared to ordinary Japanese moms and dads.

Tiffany (2007) indicated the reason why Chinese parents encourage their children’s education even though they are out of their home country by saying, high achievement and university degree will eventually lead their child to have a good job, and having a good job “represent the access to financial, professional and life success”. From that we could see that Chinese parents are really strict to their children’s education because they think it is good for their child in the long run. In “Chinese immigrants children’s first year of schooling: an investigation of Chinese immigrant parents’ perspective”, Li (as cited in Tiffany, 2007) said that “Although these [Chinese] families have resided in the new country for several years, they still connect themselves to their motherland and indigenous Chinese cultural values”. These ideas and actions make people call the Chinese mothers “tiger moms”, being strict in order for their children to have high academic achievement.

Considering about tiger moms, people may think becoming like them will enhance their child’s academic achievement, due to the results of Chinese immigrants ranking at the top in the classes in New Zealand. However, we should know that being strict and encouraging children do not mean that the child will achieve high academic scores. Colleen (as cited in Heather and Lois, n.d.) find that 87% of the Chinese students had high expectation towards getting good grades from their parents in New Zealand. However, only 37% said they are achieving their parents’ expectation. From this it is not 100 percent sure whether having a tiger mom is a guarantee of their children to achieve high academic expectation.

Not only having a guarantee of a child having a high academic achievement, but there are some problems of tiger moms in New Zealand. For instance, there is a possibility of a clash between the child and the parent. Similar to the Japanese society, I think the Chinese always makes their child to do work instead of letting them have a break time. I think being in to the slow life in New Zealand may make the Chinese immigrants think whether it is necessary to work this hard? Since I experienced the slow life in New Zealand, I felt like that. Acculturating to the host country will let people know another type of the society where the environment might be the opposite of the motherland. I think it is a good thing to have good grades, and parents to interfere their child’s education. However, interfering too much does not mean that the child will achieve high academic expectations. Furthermore, does not mean that children will become happy by having a tiger mom and achieved high academic expectations.

References

Kao, Grace, & Marta Tienda. (1995). Optimism and achievement: The educational performance of the immigrant youth. Social Science Quarterly, 76, 4.

Kavan, Heather & Lois Wilkinson. (n.d.). Dialogues with dragons: Assisting Chinese students’ academic achievement. Retrieved from http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/fms/Colleges/College%20of%20Business/Communication%20and%20Journalism/Staff/Staff%20research%20files/hkavan_Dialoguing%20with%20dragons.pdf

Peoplemovin. (2010). Migration flows across the world. Retrieved from http://peoplemov.in/