This study examines how language is used as a marker of republican integration during the French naturalization process. Along with the examination of changes within immigration policy and changing political power since the 1970s, I studied the linguistic proficiency exam, le test d’évaluation de français(TEF), for how the exam interacts with bureaucratic structures, non-profit organizations, and immigrants themselves. I question: How is French language proficiency positioned and used as a marker of republican integration during the naturalization process? What are the implications of language being used as a central marker of republican integration? Why has language changed to become an integral component of the naturalization process and what does this suggest about the ideologies within France? To answers these questions, I completed interviews and a content analysis of the TEF preparation booklet and the contract of republican integration. Drawing on ethnographic methods and applying the theories of Victor Turner, Pierre Bourdieu, and Michel Foucault I found that the state lays out citizenship as promoting an understanding of civic society, state institutions, the economy, religion, and gender/sexuality in the interest of national integration. These themes promote active participation in cultural, bureaucratic, and economic institutions to facilitate a continued functioning of the state while underlining key aspects of France such as religious tourism, secularism, and acceptance of different gender and sexual representations. Each of these findings include silences of cultural values of immigrants and promotes a higher socioeconomic class. Ultimately, the silencing of immigrant’s cultural values generates an ‘other’ and limits the extent to which immigrants are able to exercise their individual cultural citizenship.


McConnell, David

Second Advisor

Gamble, Harry


Sociology and Anthropology; French and Francophone Studies


Anthropology | French and Francophone Language and Literature | Linguistic Anthropology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Naturalization, French, France, Language, Immigration, Language Exam

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2020 Margaret Maeve Simmering