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“Family Community”, “National Community”: The Effects of Legal Constructions on Family Socializations on North African families in France

Djamel Sellah

Research Framework: Within the framework of studies on ordinary relations to politics and that of migration studies, this work intends to study the classical object of political socializations within the family structure, by questioning the effects of legal constructions on them.

Objectives: This article observes the contradictions that can arise within the family space (“family community”) due to the exclusion of some of its members from the “national community” because of their legal status.

Methodology: This article is based on thirty narrative interviews conducted with descendants of North African immigrants aged 18 to 45 living in the Île-de-France region and having at least one parent born in a North African country.

ResultsAccording to our results, the different legal status of members of the same family does not have a restrictive effect on political transmissions, as they are part of a wider set of exchanges. However, adaptations and common strategies may be put in place by these members in situations where legal status is imposed as a constraint, particularly at the time of voting. Some categorizations resulting from legal constructs can be illustrated within the family space, such as the “good immigrant/bad immigrant”, and thus put family ties to the test.

ConclusionsAs with any problematic focused on an ethnic minority, the study of political socializations within North African families requires epistemological precautions. The legal status approach allowed us to limit the « culturalist » and « evolutionist » pitfalls. Moreover, an approach that considers political socializations in their global context offers the possibility of capturing elements of understanding of certain phenomena specific to immigrant families.
Contribution: This work represents a first approach to the superposition of these two symbolic spaces. It would be interesting to continue the reflection started in this work, in order to disentangle more precisely what comes under primary socializations and what comes under the effects of legal status.