Culture is future »


Contribution : "The power of culture is the power of diversity" by Anna Kiefner, Freie Universität Berlin


If France is characterized by its cultural diversity, it remains hidden in the media and politics. Where are all of these people with a migratory background who form the basis of the French cultural wealth? Why the media and the political system, as the capital sectors of social representation and power, reflecting so little of the colored image of French society?

The awareness of the under-representation of diversity in the media has been notice since the end of 1990. The term écran blanc[1] refers to this phenomenon. This awareness produced a lot of studies, debates and publications which emphasize its value and importance. A good representation of the cultural diversity of a country could contribute to a reinforced power of politics and the media.

According to statistics, the television as a mass medium stays the most used medium of the French in 2013. Consequently, it plays an essential role in the society. However, until 1998 the small screen was only white, and in this way it was not representative with regard to the public. Fortunately, the screen became colored in 2013. Newsreaders like Harry Roselmack and Audrey Pulvar testify it, as well as the series Plus belle la vie or the TV movie Aïcha who favors the diversity by putting a character with a migratory background in the center of the film.

The CSA, Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel has the mission to guarantee the diversity in the audio-visual media. According to the last results of its Baromètre de la diversité[2], the representation of the people with a migratory background is still not satisfactory. In 2012, in the television, the entirety of people classified as “not white” was only 14%, compared to the percentage of people classified as “white” with 86%. The largest representation of people originating from a visible minority is in the genre Documentaire et Magazine[3] with 15% and in the genre Information with only 12% of people classified as “not white”. This is not enough! If the French often watch television but the minorities are not present there, this might have major social consequences for society itself. To not show them on the screen is like ignoring their identity. France, as a republic, is based on the equality of chances. We have to color the screen even more to portray the reality of the French society. So let us give more visibility to this cultural wealth which is naturally a part of France. The media and its institutions play a big part in the system of power. So why should this power not be used to represent the diversity of French culture?

The political world and its personnel, are also not a big, but an even smaller representative of diversity. The members of minorities are too absent from the political representation. In France, the political personnel stays stable thanks to strict organization established for a very long time. The politicians want to preserve their power by only seeking people who are useful for them. Thus, this world remains closed to any possible innovation. As a result, the candidates of minorities, who do not form part of the old white middle class, have difficulties to enter and to be accepted in this world, and are marked with the suspicion of non-membership or being unrepresentative. Sometimes, their diversity is even exploited. Politics imposes roles on them in which they have to represent success symbols “despite” their origin. There is no organization in the political system like the CSA that defends the diversity of origins with laws and legal constraints. This is the reason why Dubet et al. say that it is a “discrimination comme effet de système”[4] (Dubet et al., 2013, p. 243).  Well, where is their fair place to be?

The cultural power and the political power are strongly linked. For this reason, it is indispensable and very important for the power of France that all the citizens appear in the media and politics, and that these two sectors form the mirror of society. In this way, the people originating from a minority could identify themselves more easily with their country. Furthermore, this will also facilitate the social and national cohesion on the one hand and the integration on the other hand. Above all, this concerns the young people, in a period where finding their identity is difficult, all the more identifying with the French society. We do not want to see this biased image of reality anymore! Politics strongly need this rich cultural diversity in order to reflect the French society and the country. Certainly and unfortunately, France is not the only country which is fighting against this problem. And although France is heading in the right direction and great progress is made, it still has a long way to go. The necessary progress to carry out for a visible diversity is a change in the minds of the French, a transformation of their way of thinking. This applies to the media as well as to politics. As for the moment, people with a migratory background still do not feel themselves « ni dans le monde politique, ni dans les médias, ni même, au fond, dans la communauté nationale française […] vraiment « représentées » »[5] (Dubet et al., 2013, p. 270).

If France manages to turn this project into a success, it could become a model for other countries and with this win power and respect. It is the power of culture that can bring about change, and the culture is there, in front of our eyes. We just have to be more open-minded to realize its existence, to integrate it, and to be proud of it. 

Anna Kiefner, Freie Universität Berlin


CSA. Baromètre de la diversité – vague 2012. Published in march 2013. (consulté 13-11-13). Available on

Dubet, François/Cousin, Olivier/Macé, Éric/Rui, Sandrine. 2013. Pourquoi moi ? L’expérience des discriminationsÉditions du Seuil.

Respect Mag. La diversité pas assez représentée à la TV. Respectmag.com18-04-13. (consulté 12-11-13). Available on

[1] translated: white screen

[2] translated: barometer of diversity

[3] translated: documentary and magazine

[4] translated: „discrimination like effect of the whole system“

[5] translated: „neither in the political world nor in the media, and also not in the national French community really represented”