Common Sense Politics: Religion and Belonging in French Public Space


Michelle D. Weitzel

01 12 2020

Michelle D. Weitzel, “Common Sense Politics: Religion and Belonging in French Public Space. French Politics 18, (2020): 380–404

Public “common sense” should be conceptualized as an important force structuring the politics of belonging. Homing in on the embodied and sensory aspects of common, taken-for-granted knowledge and the habits of perception that inform it, this article demonstrates how culturally entrained listening practices structure rights to the city and the exercise of citizenship. By tuning into the significance of ambient religious sound, it offers an empirical, ethnographic investigation into how common sense, in dialogue with constitutional and municipal law, shapes practices of citizenship and participation in French public space. The article argues that common sense deriving from perception and interpretation of public sound among majority French represents a stubborn obstacle to French Muslims’ exercise of full citizenship; indeed, it enacts a kind of violence that locks French Muslims out of agentive citizenry, rendering them objects to be muted at will, not fellow citizens to be heard.