From pluralisation to cohesion: Islam and state-secondary education about religions in England and France

Sampere Peacock, James (2022) From pluralisation to cohesion: Islam and state-secondary education about religions in England and France. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This comparative interdisciplinary socio-political and educationalist thesis researches the place of religion, particularly Islam, in English and French state-secondary schools and how this relates to education about religion. Since the 1980s, both rapidly ethno-religiously diversifying countries have increasingly sought to develop educational responses to encourage ways of living together with our differences. The thesis researches this bi-national confluence which indicates a de-privatisation of religion, thus showing that England’s ‘State-Church’ legacy and French laïcité are not as dissimilar as often believed.

The comparative case study focuses on the subjects of English RE and French Humanities, predominantly History and ‘Enseignement moral et civique’ (Citizenship), in state-secondary schools. For this, I apply a multi-method qualitative research design combining an analysis of documents, class observations and most importantly, educator and elite interviews.

England and France’s educational responses to their complex religious situations evidence that the de-privatisation of religion has led to two forms of bi-national convergence. The first point of confluence refers to state-educational commitments to egalitarian pluralism in England and greater religious recognition in France since the 1980s and 1990s. Secondly, in the 21st century, both countries have strengthened the promotion of ‘social cohesion’ via education, a development substantially associated with socio-political matters surrounding Islam. Such ‘cohesive’ discourses can bolster education about religion’s role in student civic development.

This research also illustrates how educators’ understandings and approaches concerning education about religion connect to ‘cohesive’ discourses, student civic development and, more widely, to the place accorded to religion within state-secondary schools as public spheres. English educators favour an RE premised on teaching religious diversity, but interviewees rarely allude to nurturing students’ religiosity. Although the subject RE does not exist in French state-secondary schools, my data reveals instances of a religiously inclusive educational laïcité. Nonetheless, French educators show varying depths of pedagogical engagement with religion.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Kitty Laine
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2022 18:16
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2022 18:16


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