Immigration and social movement activism in the United States and France: A comparative perspective

TitleImmigration and social movement activism in the United States and France: A comparative perspective
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsClaysmith, Janine
Academic DepartmentPolitical Scienceq
Thesis AdvisorHenderson, Sarah L.
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Political Science
Number of Pages40
Date Published03/2007
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsassimilation, comparison, discrimination, France

The purpose of this essay is to explore the dynamics of social movements, and better understand why some populations succeed when others fail. This topic was motivated by travels across the United States and Europe. In these journeys, minority groups and their unequal treatment by society were a constant feature, yet unique to specific regions. Why haven't these groups assembled, participated in social activism, and achieved national equality?
After four months of residing France, followed by in depth research on social movements, a hypothesis has evolved. Discrimination of social groups is rooted in a nations' political, social, and economic history. Citizens of the United States highly value their democratic principles, including basic civil and political rights. These two principles have nurtured a country in which many organizations actively promote human interest through social activism. When a specific group of immigrant workers in the South experienced social and political pressure as migrant workers, they took advantage of American culture. By collaborating with national organizations including student and religious groups, the small coalition's social movement for basic human rights overcame one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.
However, the immigrant community in France has a larger impediment to overcome in order to achieve equality. Due to a lack of assimilation and acknowledgement of a problem within immigrant communities on behalf of the French government, racial bias is deeply ingrained in French culture. Thus, France needs a movement based on race in order to work toward social equality.