Graduation Year

Fall 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Second Department


Reader 1

Fazia Aitel

Reader 2

Abdourahman Waberi

Reader 3

Gregory Hess

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Rights Information

© 2011 Justine Dodgen


As immigrants arrive in a new culture, they must modify their behaviors to adapt to their host society. Through a review of current literature, I will examine the psychological and sociological aspects of immigration and the effects on migrant identity. I will argue that migrants most desire a bicultural identity, in which they retain some elements of their ethno-cultural identity while adopting some values of French society. The construction of a bicultural identity presents a challenge due to the particular philosophical foundations of the French nation-state and French culture. In the next chapter, I will analyze the challenges Senegalese migrants confront as they seek to build a bicultural identity. France’s assimilationist tradition presents an ideological barrier to successful integration and a model which must be examined to understand France’s identity politics. Resulting secondary barriers are evident in France’s social and economic policies, which have an exclusionary impact on immigrants and ethnic minorities. Senegalese migrants comprise a particularly vulnerable minority group in France, and socioeconomic pressures are especially influential on the integration of Senegalese migrants due to religious differences, the practice of polygamy, a high concentration in the service sector, and one the largest average household sizes. I will examine how France’s policies and societal behavior affect Senegalese-migrant identity and integration. In the last chapter, I will examine Senegalese perceptions of France and immigration, which are radically different from the true experiences of Senegalese migrants in France.