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Public narratives and attitudes towards refugees and other migrants: France country profile

Case/country studies

Written by Claire Kumar, Kerrie Holloway, Diego Faurès

Hero image description: Protester holding sign. Image license:Unsplash License.

This briefing presents an overview of the key features of migration and asylum policy in France, recent trends in migration patterns, public perceptions and political narratives on refugees and other migrants:

  • French immigration policy is driven by an assimilationist approach that seeks full integration of the migrant population into French society. This approach has influenced public attitudes and narratives, sparking debate around who gets to be French and contributing to further segregation rather than integration.
  • Immigration is generally not a key issue in public opinion polls, despite being a hot topic politically. It spiked in importance following the arrival of large numbers of refugees in Europe in 2016, but quickly decreased in line with trends in other European countries.
  • In 2016 positive attitudes towards immigration surpassed negative attitudes in France for the first time since surveys began in 2002, though they remain more negative than in other European countries. The biggest concern continues to be whether refugees and other migrants will effectively integrate into French society.
  • The key public narrative in France has been one of ‘us against them’, which sees immigrants as an ‘out group’ that is unwilling to adapt to the French way of life. This framing has been strengthened with the conflation of ‘immigration’ and ‘Islam’, terms often used synonymously in political debate on the issue.

This briefing is part of a wider project supported by the IKEA Foundation aimed at supporting public and private investors interested in engaging with migration and displacement.

About the series

Through a series of activities, dialogues and innovative communication and outreach initiatives, Public and political narratives on refugees and other migrants: implications for action maps recent research and evidence on public attitudes toward refugees and other migrants.

Hearts and minds: how Europeans think and feel about immigration

Hearts and minds updated

Explore our data visualisation, displaying migration trends, salience, perceptions and public attitudes from France: Hearts and minds: how Europeans think and feel about immigration which builds on this ongoing research, supported by the IKEA Foundation, analysing public and political narratives and attitudes towards refugees and other migrants in Europe.

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