“Identities”: the fascinating debate between Olivier Abel and Michel Wieviorka

For three weeks, The cross explored identity issues that occupy a growing place in society and public debate. This trip took us to territories that were apparently very different: that of the young generations who are building themselves on social networks or that of migrants of Haitian origin ostracized in Guadeloupe.

We met these French people called Mohamed, identity activists, activists woke on the Cambridge campus, the faithful of a multicultural parish in Essonne or even men who question the codes of seduction.

→ READ. “Identity, talk about it without getting angry”, our dossier

What all these situations have in common is that they revolve around two questions: who am I? What is my vision of the common world? Everywhere there are demands for recognition or claims around gender, ethnic origins, religious or cultural affiliations. To the point that society seems to resemble an “archipelago”, to use the expression of the essayist Jérôme Fourquet. This new world gives rise to fears and tensions which in particular lead to a surge in xenophobia.

Evolution of the collective relationship

The choice of The cross was to give the floor, to listen to what everyone has to say. And also to provide food for thought to understand the challenges of these developments, through major interviews or a forum published in The cross and La Croix l’Hebdo.

To complete this work, Olivier Abel and Michel Wieviorka (1) agreed to debate and answer readers’ questions. They analyze this need for self-assertion, questioning what this says about the evolution of the relationship with the collective.

Among the questions: has the place of Catholics become that of a “minority” among others in a plural society? The two intellectuals also come back to secularism, the climate at the university or the #MeToo phenomenon.


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