Looking beyond
Blended understandings of symbolic forces in London-French education on-land and on-line
in French London
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Chapter 5 tends towards a blended ethnographic approach and returns to the theme of education, through the theoretical prism of symbolic violence. The first half of the chapter is dedicated to on-land participants’ attitudes to education in France and London, and the second half compares online representations of three London-based schools frequented by participants or their children: the Lycée Français; Newham Sixth-form College and Whitgift School. The chapter argues that the French and UK education systems serve as microcosms for the respective societies’ approaches to migration, nationalism and citizenship. Universalist Republican values are at the core of the French school system, where the assimilationist citizenship model is reproduced through an exclusionary, didactic, positivist educational epistemology. Conversely, London’s multiculturalist social model is transferred to its classrooms through the adoption of a constructivist, student-centred pedagogy. The chapter contends that despite the French model’s egalitarian tenets, it remains a highly competitive system, with an emphasis on achieving success through reprimand rather than encouragement. This causes many French Londoners to turn towards the English model for their own progeny. The multimodal online analysis supports the on-land findings, with an under-representation of ethnic minorities and a lack of creative opportunities evinced on the Lycée website, set against the celebration of individual achievement, inclusivity and creative capital on the NewVIc and Whitgift landing pages. Migrants’ favouring of the UK system – for primary education at least – thus replicates the rationale behind their initial migration to London, with perceived openness, meritocracy and opportunity being potent incentives.

French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city


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