race, Black Lives Matter, France, United States

Looking in the mirror

We demonstrate how sociological theories of discursive opportunity structures illu- minate key elements of US and French media coverage of Black Lives Matter (BLM) in France. Fundamental discursive differences between the two countries shape the vis- ibility, resonance, and legitimacy of claims made on behalf of racially identified groups. A textual analysis of thirty-five articles from each country that discuss BLM and France published between 2015 and 2020 reveals that the US journalists commonly identify BLM activists as members of marginalized communities, interpret French cir- cumstances as similar to the racial dynamics found in the United States, critique France’s “republican” model of citizenship, and are relatively positively disposed toward BLM activity in France. By comparison, French coverage largely eschews iden- tifying actors by racial identities, avoids or rejects comparisons with the United States, and at times contains implicit or explicit valorization of the French color-blind repub- lican model, with some authors casting BLM as a product of the excesses of the American system. Our findings demonstrate the relevance of discursive opportunity structure theories to comparative media analysis, suggesting that coverage of race- based movements abroad may respond to different dynamics than coverage within the United States.