Reflecting respect: Transcultural communicative practices of muslim French youth

Chantal Tetreault


This article explores how ideologies derived from North African culture are transformed in local expressions of identity among Muslim French adolescents. Naturally-occurring interactional data were collected among adolescents of primarily Algerian descent living in a cité (a low-income housing project) outside Paris. The study shows that the local identity practices of Muslim French teens articulate with transcultural ideologies of identity, but in contradictory rather than wholly consistent ways. Specifically, teens in the study circulate seemingly static cultural ideologies pertaining to generation, gender, and sexuality, but also routinely challenge these ideologies in interactions with their peers. Through the innovative interactional genre of “parental name calling,” adolescents articulate their ambivalent relationship to the North African-derived cultural value they call le respect (‘respect’). In the process, they negotiate their own beliefs and practices regarding generation, gender, and sexuality in accommodation and opposition to their parents’ values.

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