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French Riots and Urban Segregation (From Rioting in the UK and France: A Comparative Analysis, P 94-104, 2009, David Waddington, Fabien Jobard, and Mike King, eds. - See NCJ-229457)

NCJ Number
Hugues Lagrange
Date Published
11 pages
This chapter examines some of the underlying causes of the 3 weeks of rioting in France in October and November 2005, with attention to relevant social and structural dimensions, notably demographics, housing, employment, and segregation patterns of the towns involved.
The economic arguments presented in this chapter are less effective in explaining the sites of the riots than racial/ethnic segregation. The locations of rioting contained a significant percentage of large families of African ancestry and housing decay. In France, the segregation of families of African origin is greater than that of immigrants from Europe. A number of other generalizations are offered about the areas where the riots occurred. They originated primarily from, and then spread to, public housing estates known in France as Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUSs). Only approximately 15 percent of the neighborhoods involved in rioting were not classified as ZUSs. In addition, there was no evidence that those involved in rioting came from middle-class or affluent neighborhoods. Also, the neighborhoods involved in the riots had a high percentage of residents under 20 years old (at least 35 percent). In addition, unemployment, especially among youth, was high in the areas of rioting. Further, the rioting occurred in jurisdictions that were given political priority, not only because of the "deprivation" that characterized them, but also because of the social tension that had existed over the past few decades. Another factor often mentioned as a factor in the rioting was a nationwide housing demolition and reconstruction program. This program was inaugurated under a law passed in August 2003 that was intended to facilitate social integration and economic sustainability in neighborhoods classified as sensitive urban zones. In practice, implementation of the law resulted in the eviction of families living in the most rundown buildings. 2 tables, 4 figures, and 20 notes