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Europeanization, language and national identity: the case of France
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis was to determine the role of Europeanization, described as a convergence process, including the supremacy of EU law, as well as non-binding instruments, on French language policies from the adoption of the Treaty on European Union (1993) onwards, and its impact on the long-lasting relationship between language and identity in France.

The study starts by investigating the development of nationalism in Europe in general and in France in particular. From a historical perspective, France is usually defined as a civic nation. Yet the French language became the most distinctive feature of national identity, with a view to bring about the cultural homogenization of all citizens, leading to the repression of regional languages.

In the second half of the 20th century, the specter of globalization and Americanization influenced the development of protective language policies in France such as laws restricting foreign loanwords in French and banning the use of English in the public sphere. The most representative of these policies is the Toubon law (1994), which can also express the fear of European integration, bringing about the use of English, especially through the free movement of goods.

After the signature (but no ratification) of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages from the Council of Europe in 1999, measures more in favour of regional languages were adopted in France, even if mostly symbolic. At the same time, the fight against English seemed to have subsided somewhat. In a broader framework, the vitality of a particular language always seems to be linked to cultural, political and economic power.

The conclusion of the thesis shows that Europeanization was associated with globalization in the beginning of the 1990’s and that this process has gradually questioned the exclusive relationship between the French language and national identity. Yet it seems that today, the European Union is more conceived as a new arena in which France can build a positive identity for itself by being active on the international stage, and by defending multilingualism. If France seems to have gradually developed a more pluralistic view on language, mirroring the motto “United in diversity”, the European Union should still find a balance between unity and diversity and give a tangible content to the concept of multilingualism.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 96 p.
Keyword [en]
national identity, language policy, Europeanization, France
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-194284OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-194284DiVA: diva2:604945
Subject / course
Educational program
Master Programme in Euroculture
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-02-26 Created: 2013-02-12 Last updated: 2013-02-27Bibliographically approved

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