Since the early 1980s, the French public sphere has been marked by the construction of a “Muslim problem”, which has become a social evidence among the elite. This article analyzes the construction of this evidence through a sociology of the High Council for Integration (HCI), whose members belong to multiple elite fractions (politicians, academics, high civil servants, intellectuals, journalists, activists, etc.) and which constitutes a “neutral place” that allowed for the universalization of the “Muslim problem”. We assume a generalized heteronomy that promotes the action of multi-positioned agents reaching to transform and circulate the idea of a “Muslim problem” in several social spaces. By analyzing the stages of problematisation of Islam by the HCI between 1989 and 2012, we show that this heteronomy involved a redefinition of the “Muslim problem” through media terms and that the work of mobilization against the “Muslim problem” provoked a transformation of the secular standard (emergence of a “field of secularism”) and institution (from “Committee of Wise Men” to “government think tank”).
- social capital