Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Religious Tolerance and Understanding in the French Education System
by Ferrara, Carol, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2011, 119; 10305872
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past few decades, some scholars have strongly suggested that the inclusion of more education about religion in French secondary education would work to promote tolerance and understanding of peoples of other religions among French youth. This suggestion, however, has been staunchly opposed by those who are advocates of a strict secularism, who argue that doing so is not only impossible, but would mean betraying a key component of French national identity building in schools: laïcité and morale laique. First developed as a liberal concept meant to celebrate the state’s independence from the Catholic Church and provide religious freedom for all French citizens, laïcité has undergone a number of changes over the past century, some of which have led to a more illiberal interpretation of laïcité. In order to investigate this problem from within the field, I have set out to observe whether French students in private schools receiving some form of education about religion tend to be more tolerant and demonstrate more religious understanding than those students in public schools receiving little to none. I have performed a comparative qualitative and quantitative case study of an Islamic lycée , a Catholic lycée, and two public lycées in the Ile-de-France region of France. While the results did show that private school students receiving more of an education about religion tended to demonstrate slightly more religious understanding than their public school counterparts, they did not demonstrate more tolerance, proving that the two concepts do not inherently go hand in hand. Furthermore, a number of other factors highlighted by this study seem to have a similarly significant impact on student tolerance and understanding, including students’ religion, piety, and their exposure to religious diversity in their school.

Key terms: laïcité, education, religion, Islam, French youth, Muslim youth.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rahnema, Ali
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Islamic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies
Keywords: Education, French youth, Islam, Laïcité, Muslim youth, Religion, Religious tolerance
Publication Number: 10305872
ISBN: 978-1-369-49436-5
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