Becoming Women/Becoming Workers

Identity Formation in a French Vocational School

By Catherine Raissiguier

Subjects: School Change And Reform
Series: SUNY series, Power, Social Identity, and Education
Paperback : 9780791420867, 211 pages, September 1994
Hardcover : 9780791420850, 211 pages, September 1994

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Table of contents


Chapter 1  Introduction

Posing the Problem

Why Focus on Farida and Alexandra?

Espistemological Considerations

The Study

Analysis and Organization of the Book

Chapter 2  Theoretical Framework

Moving Beyond the Structure/Culture Dichotomy

From Reproduction to …?

Taking Gender Seriously

And Race/Ethnicity …

Beyond Class (comma) Gender (comma) Race (comma)

Language and Subjectivity

Chapter 3  Background of the Study

Present Structure of the French School System

The Nature of Educational Differentiation in France

Massification of the French School System

Differentiation and Social Class

Differentiation and Ethnicity/Race

Differentiation and Gender

French Schools in a Changing Economy: Economic Growth, Degradation of Work, and Fordism

Schooling for a Modernizing Economy

French Schools in a Changing Economy: Economic Recession, Deindustrialization and Post-Fordism

Vocational Education: Revalorization or Formation of Marginal Workers?


Chapter 4  Class, Gender, and Race in the School: Defining the Boundaries

Gender Stratification in the School

Ethnic/Racial Stratification in the School

Class Stratification in the School

Vocational School: Failure or Success?


Chapter 5  Class, Gender, and Race in the School: Silencing and Marginalization

Spatial Arrangement of the School

Disciplinary Practices in the School

Marginalization Techniques in the School


Chapter 6  Negotiating Boundaries: Everyday Practices

Negotiating the Learning/Teaching Encounter

Introducing Fragments of the Self in the School

Introducing Sexualized Selves in the School


Chapter 7  Schooling and Education: Students' Perspectives

Orientation Procedures

On Being a BEP Student


Chapter 8  Visions for the Future: Work, Marriage, and Romance

On Wage Labor

On Being a Secretary

On Marriage, Romance, Domesticity and Wage Labor


Chapter 9  The Social Construction of Marginal Identities

Algerian Migrants and the French School

The French Media, Girls of Algerian Descent, and the School

Work of Identity Formation in the School


Chapter 10  Summary and Conclusions

Summary of the Findings

Theoretical Implications

Limitations of the Study and Implications for Future Research

The School: Its Potential and Its Limits

Methodological Appendix





This book traces the experiences of young French and Algerian women students in a Parisian vocational school—how they negotiate their class, gender, and ethnic/racial identities in relation to school, family, romance, and future work in a changing and unpromising economy. Drawn from classroom observations and personal interviews, the book provides a theoretical framework for analyzing the complex network of cultural and historical discourses, limitations, and expectations that form the students' present lives and future outlook.

The author links the micro and macro levels of her analysis by grounding her study in the nature of the French school, the discursive boundaries of French society, and the volatile French economy. The book contributes to an overall understanding of the processes of identity formation; class, race/ethnicity, and gender intersections; and women's responses to schooling and education.

Catherine Raissiguier is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Cincinnati.