Re-casting local laïcité

Re-casting local laïcité: The local governance of religious diversity in France

Julia Martínez-Ariño


The overall question of my project is how French cities respond to ethno-religious diversification. How is French secularism and colour-blind republicanism being re-shaped and re-fashioned at the local level? In particular, I want to investigate the incorporation of diversity (in my case mainly through, but not limited to, religious organisations) into local governance. More precisely, the research focuses on four main aspects of the local governance of religious diversity:

  1. Faith involvement in local governance: To what extent are religious groups/organisations considered legitimate partners for the local governance of urban diversity in French cities?
  2. “Policy instruments” for the governance of (religious) diversity: What are the public policy instruments used by local actors to respond to urban (religious) diversity? Why do cities adopt these specific policy tools?
  3. The local (re-)definition of membership of the nation: How are the boundaries of the membership of the nation been reshaped at the local level? How do ethnic and religious differences play out in these context? What are the narratives and discursive formations that drive, and result from, the cities’ responses to diversity?
  4. (Religious) Minorities’ claims-making: Are minority groups able to mobilise and bring their claims to local policy making through their participation in governance networks?

Methodologically, I adopt a mixed-method approach. I combine in-depth interviews with observations and network analysis in three medium-sized cities in France.

I published a first article analysing the interaction of religious organisations and local governments in the city of Rennes. I am currently working on two other articles exploring the role of cities in the governance of religious diversity.