Published on 7th February 2019 by

Is equality among social classes in France something that is existing? How are social classes in France living happily together or is there a big gap between them? What is the situation in France when we are talking about social classes, ethnic groups? Are they co-existing in peace or ignoring each other completely? France has always known social classes, but also is it one of their pillars that equality must be lived.

Living “like a God in France” is a saying applicable to vacationers in France, but absolutely not to the French themselves: to them, life is nothing but worrisome. They are facing high unemployment rates, fear of new terror attacks and an important political division. What is left of pillars that are the basis of the French republic: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité? And what does it mean actually, to be French, today? Dutch Parisian Wilfred de Bruijn uncovers an intriguing country, full of contradictions, far away from the cliches we all know.

The ideal of equality was the main driving force behind the French Revolution, but does equality really exist in France? Wilfred de Bruijn explores the gap between the different ethnic groups in his hometown of Paris in search of an answer. From the students of the prestigious Ecole de la Legion d’Honneur who talk lovingly about the republican values to the real people of Saint Denis that hold a much different discourse: “Officially, I’m French,” said a Muslim in the street, “but not as French as the whites”. In a different world, the 7th and 8th arrondissement, the old privileged elite of Paris lives, still holding on to their entitlement, despite the fact that the French nobility officially no longer exists. At the same time, in the suburbs of Paris there are no privileges and what was previously expressed in rap music and violent riots threatens to turn into radicalization and terrorism. Wilfred wonders: what binds the French yet?

Original Title: Op zoek naar Frankrijk: een republiek aan scherven (1/7)
Presentation: Wilfred de Bruijn
Directors: Stefanie de Brouwer, Erik Lieshout
Chief Editors: Stefanie de Brouwer, Olaf Oudheusden
Research: Ilse van der Velden, Alexandre Horiot, Olaf Oudheusden
Anna Prichard, Pauline Cazaubon, Ouafia Kheniche, Marijn Kruk
Armelle Belaunde-Gautret, Gwenaelle Le Gall
Camera: Jackó van ‘t Hof, Joost van Herwijnen
Sound: Rik Meier, Arno Hagers
Editing: Obbe Verwer
© VPRO March April 2016

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