Kumarini Silva


In the town of Clichy-sous-Bois, a poor suburb just outside of Paris, two boys, running from the police for a crime they did not commit, were electrocuted in a power transformer where they attempted to hide. For the next three weeks, the poorest neighborhoods across the nation erupted in violence and vandalism that shocked the country and the world, and changed the way the French understand and represent diversity and difference. Using Michel Foucault's theories of discourse and language, this project analyzes articles in the three most widely circulated French national daily newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro, Liberation and seeks to understand how the French mainstream media responded to the riots and their aftermath, in 2005. By consulting academic sources, media reports, and personal interviews collected in the fall of 2006, the project affirms that media played an essential role in the formulation and propagation of the riots, and the analyses that followed. This project maintains that the French print media coverage of the 2005 riots is representative of a specific power dynamic that positioned members of the French elite as absolute authorities on the events that took place in the banlieues, and their consequences. During and because of the riots, however, this dynamic shifted, and one year later these same media outlets restructured their arguments regarding the cause of the violence. Rather than dictating a particular version of what took place, the articles published in 2006 represent a variety of positions regarding the riots, the complex issues that surround them, and the diversity of the French population itself.

Date Accepted


Publication Date


Subject Categories

Mass media--influence


France, riots, media

Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Rights Holder

Margot Appleton Morse Blin

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