Judicial Diversity in France: The Unspoken and the Unspeakable

40 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2018 Last revised: 14 Nov 2018

See all articles by Mathilde Cohen

Mathilde Cohen

University of Connecticut - School of Law

Date Written: July 4, 2016


Despite the importance of judicial diversity for litigants and the broader public, no previous study has examined this issue within the French judiciary. This article begins to fill this gap by using original, qualitative data that shed light on judges’, prosecutors’, and other legal actors’ discourses on racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity. Its main contribution is to show that these legal professionals deploy three strategies — linguistic, institutional, and geographic — to dodge or downplay the relevance of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The first, linguistic, form of avoidance lies in refusing to name and discuss race and ethnicity explicitly; the second, institutional, in denying that the judiciary has a diversity problem or that the problem lies within its power; and the third, geographic, consists in relegating the issue of diversity to distant places — the United States and overseas France. The article concludes by discussing key directions for future research.

Keywords: France, Courts, Judges, Diversity, Judicial Diversity, Race, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Qualitative Data, Universalism, Judicial Education, Judicial Appointments, Representation

JEL Classification: K1, K4

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mathilde, Judicial Diversity in France: The Unspoken and the Unspeakable (July 4, 2016). Law and Social Inquiry, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp.1542-1573, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3096587

Mathilde Cohen (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

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