Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2011

Department 1



Although both events were fundamentally acts of contestation led by different segments of France’s youth, the fall 2005 riots and the spring 2006 CPE protests received very different treatment in French public opinion. Whereas the riots were overwhelmingly condemned, the protests were not only tolerated but also often celebrated. By examining dominant interpretations of these events circulated in the news media alongside those of young people collected during a year of fieldwork in the public housing projects of a medium-sized French city, this paper shines light on fundamental French values and beliefs about how society ought to work while also contributing to ongoing debates about the cultural identity of such youth. More generally, it demonstrates the usefulness of comparison in the analysis of acts of political dissent.