This chapter suggests that laïcité is a confusing concept because it is internally complex, and appeals to values and concerns that tend to be kept separate in Anglo-American liberal political theory. It identifies three main strands of laïcité: neutrality (laïcité A), autonomy (laïcité B), and community (laïcité C). The chapter attempts to situate each of them in the historical context of its emergence, and to offer an analytical elucidation of its relevance to the issues raised by the headscarves affair and to wider debates about toleration. It suggests that the wearing of headscarves in schools was problematic in France because it questioned the normative relevance of all three interpretations of laïcité at the same time. The chapter also focuses on questions about the coherence of the concept, and points towards an alternative conceptualisation of laïcité that would do justice to the republican language in which it is embedded.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book attempts to convey the different sociological contexts for how contemporary anarchist theory and practice is to be understood. It concentrates on the issue of broadening the parameters of how anarchist theory and practice is conceptualised. The question of individual liberty and collective needs raises an equally important anarchist principle: equating the means of an action with its ends. The book compares the major philosophical differences and strategies between the classical period and the contemporary anti-capitalist movements. It assesses the viability of libertarian education, a century on from the life and work of Spanish writer and activist Francisco Ferrer and finds considerable evidence for the endurance of these ideals.
This chapter illustrates the importance of broadening the understanding of social anarchism. Social anarchism has shifted its ground as it has embraced some elements of poststructuralist philosophy. This shift in territory from social to poststructuralist anarchism is most noticeable and particularly important at two levels of theory. The first, and the one that underscores the others, is the poststructuralist denunciation of foundationalist discourses or narratives. The second shift in theoretical territory is less pronounced but nonetheless real. The chapter suggests that, when situated alongside the practices of new social movements associated with the anticapitalist protests, the poststructuralist perspective affords insight into how new modes of anarchist practice are emerging. It also highlights how anarchist theory and practice is evolving into something distinct and is, at the same time, nurturing contemporary modes of resistance against traditional social, political and economic forms of oppression.