Sheltering French families: Parisian suburbia and the politics of housing, 1939-1975 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Mulvey, Michael Joseph
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Sheltering French Families reminds us that a society's response to the housing question--how to shelter families dependent on salaries--is never benign; it is always linked to visions of ideal economic and human relations. This history examines how the French repeatedly re-thought the best kind of familial housing to bring about a better society. It also offers a critical reinterpretation of France's modernist suburbs dismissed by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic as misguided blunders. These communities evoke images of burned-out cars and youth riots, but the postwar Social-Catholics who advocated their construction saw them as a means to encourage solidarity, prevent suburban sprawl, and liberate women from employment. Feminist authors called the suburbs baby-factories, Marxist intellectuals decried them as capitalist concentration camps, and liberal economists said they imposed socialist collectivism on the middle classes. These critiques obscured or discredited the social-democratic and conservationist intentions behind modernist suburbia. In the end, a centrist-liberal government prohibited construction of modernist communities because they were psychologically incompatible with married couples' natural desire to live in homogeneous communities. The same government promoted American-style single-family subdivisions as official policy. This history contributes to suburban, gender, and welfare studies as it shows how the history of French housing shaped the France we know today. It also reminds us how cultural attitudes affect housing possibilities, desires, and choices and thus raises new questions about contemporary economic shibboleths imposed as universal truths.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History."
  • Kramer, Lloyd
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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