New Books Network

Jean Beaman

Citizen Outsider

Children of North African Immigrants in France

University of California Press 2017

New Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network February 8, 2018 Richard Ocejo

What does it mean to be a citizen? Every country has its own legal codes that confer a set of rights on official members....

What does it mean to be a citizen? Every country has its own legal codes that confer a set of rights on official members. But full citizenship is often more than what the law says. A better question is: what does it mean to be an accepted member of one’s society? According to France’s Republicanism, national and civic terms determine identity, and basic citizenship, “being French,” trumps all other group affiliations. Race, ethnicity—those common and powerful sources of identity and symbols of belonging—simply do not exist within this model. Not so for everyone in France, according to sociologist Jean Beaman in her new book Citizen Outsider: Children of North African Immigrants in France (University of California Press, 2017). In this work, Beaman focuses on a group of people in France who have ostensibly “made it”—children of maghrebin immigrants who have obtained university (and sometimes post-graduate) degrees, work professional jobs, and entered the middle class—and who mostly embrace French culture and the country’s sense of Republicanism, but who are not accepted as French by their country. They feel French, but are not regarded as French. Driven by the question of “what does it mean to be a minority in a society that does not recognize minorities?” Beaman lets her participants’ lives and experiences shine, and her analyses reveal the unfortunate conditions and realities of their everyday existence as “citizen outsiders”: both an ordinary member of their society, and a total foreigner at the same time.


Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017), about the transformation of low-status occupations into cool, cultural taste-making jobs (cocktail bartenders, craft distillers, upscale mens barbers, and whole animal butchers), and of Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City (Princeton University Press, 2014), about growth policies, nightlife, and conflict in gentrified neighborhoods. His work has appeared in such journals as City & Community, Poetics, Ethnography, and the European Journal of Cultural Studies. He is also the editor of Ethnography and the City: Readings on Doing Urban Fieldwork (Routledge, 2012) and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Metropolitics, Work and Occupations, and the Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography.