French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city

By Saskia Huc-Hepher

French London


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4333-4
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: June 2021
  • BIC Category: Social & cultural anthropology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, Society & social sciences / Sociology & anthropology, Society & social sciences / Migration, immigration & emigration, Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, French, Sociology
  • Series: New Ethnographies


Who are the people that make up London's French community and why did they choose to leave France and settle in London? How is 'Frenchness' played out in physical and digital diasporic spaces? And what impact has Brexit had on French Londoners' sense of belonging, identity and embeddedness? French London offers an unprecedented perspective on the everyday lived experience of French migrants in London. Based on years of immersive on-land and on-line empirical enquiry, the book uncovers the motivations underlying mobility from France and the appeal of London as a long-term home.

Through the individual (hi)stories of a diverse group of French Londoners and an ethnosemiotic analysis of blogs and websites, London emerges as a place of liberation and openness, where migrants are free from inequalities encountered in the birthplace of l'égalité, whether in education, work or wider society. This volume explores the messy complexity and paradoxical ambivalence of cross-Channel mobility, including here-there, explicit-implicit, physical-digital, subject-object and reinvention-reproduction dichotomies.

Structured around Pierre Bourdieu's concepts of symbolic violence and habitus, the book considers how apparently pragmatic mobility decision-making is often underpinned by powerful social, affective and pre-reflective factors. Its subdivision of habitus into three interrelated components - habitat, habituation and habits - provides an enlightening conceptual lens to examine participants' material lifeworlds, the gradual creep of settlement, and a 'common-unity' of practice. From schooling and healthcare to eating and drinking, the migrants' evolving behaviours, attitudes, identities and belongings are expertly scrutinised.

Spanning pre- and post-Brexit periods, this timely book gives voice to a largely neglected minority and offers a linguistically and culturally sensitive insight into French migrants' on-land trajectories and on-line representations.


1 Looking back: the underlying push of symbolic violence in France
2 Looking in: windows onto intimate London habitats and homemaking across cultures
3 The imperceptible force of habituation: moving beyond agency
4 Adopting the habits of the London field: French community rejection and projection
5 Looking beyond: blended understandings of symbolic forces in London-French education on-land and on-line
6 Digital representations of habitus: a multimodal reading of archived London-French blogs
Epilogue: 'Brexit blues'



Saskia Huc-Hepher is Senior Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Westminster

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