France’s Concrete Frontier: Gender, Family, and Social Policy in High-Rise Communities, 1945-1975


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Today, French suburban high-rise communities or grands ensembles d’habitations evoke the hyperbolic images of flame-engulfed cars and youth riots. Postwar French technocrats, however, imagined the communities as cornerstones of a welfare state committed to the preservation of the family’s nurturing function. Families of all classes with female domestic caregivers “liberated” from work by housing and maternal allocations by male breadwinners would move from rent-controlled apartments to condominiums with financial solvency. “Concrete Frontier” asks three questions: what vision of society inspired a commitment to the grands ensembles, what shapes of domestic life did they engender, and what sociocultural processes gave rise to their abandonment?