Realizing a Utopia: Daily Life at the Godin Family

Realizing a Utopia: Daily Life at the Godin Family


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  • Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise ...

    ANONYMOUS

  • Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise.

    ANONYMOUS

  • Children's day at the Familistère de Guise in 1933.

    ANONYMOUS

To close

Title: Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise ...

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1904

Date shown: 1904

Dimensions: Height 12 - Width 17

Technique and other indications: Madame Roger and a nanny supervising the children's walk.

Storage location: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-055

Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise ...

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

To close

Title: Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1899

Date shown: 1899

Dimensions: Height 18 - Width 24

Technique and other indications: photography

Storage location: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-054bis

Interior of the Nursery at the Familistère de Guise.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

To close

Title: Children's day at the Familistère de Guise in 1933.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1933

Date shown: 1933

Dimensions: Height 18 - Width 23.5

Technique and other indications: Prize-giving ceremony in the inner courtyard of the central pavilion of the Social Palace.

Storage location: Municipal Museum of Guise website

Contact copyright: © Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Picture reference: 1976-01-179

Children's day at the Familistère de Guise in 1933.

© Guise museum collection / Guise Familistère

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Jean-Baptiste Godin denounces in Social solutions the limits of the solution put in place within the framework of the workers' cities of Mulhouse which were honored during the Universal Exhibition of 1867 and which were favored by the authorities of the Second Empire. These cities combine the ideal of the small house, home ownership and the moralization of the working family through its isolation.

On the contrary, the choices recommended within the framework of the Guise familistère, built from 1859, are to promote the collective life of families, to take charge of the organization of social relations, to exalt worker work and the virtues of education and culture.

Image Analysis

Mothers can bring newborns to the "nursery" and "nursery" without leaving the familistère, by escaping, thanks to the large windows, the harsh climate.

Referring to the cradles, clearly visible in the photo of the nursery, whose dimensions underline the importance given to education, Godin specifies: “The child's bedtime is always dry and odorless […] the mattress is made of 30 at 40 liters of big sound well blocked, put in the bottom of this canvas [in strong ticking] and covered with a small sheet […] This layer does not penetrate moisture; when the child gets up, the damp sound is agglomerated into a clod that can be easily removed with the hand, or with a small wire racket; [the sound] that is removed due to humidity can be given to barnyard animals. Behind the stove, there is a piece of educational material, "in the space between the balustrades, [infants] practice taking their first steps, using the handrails for support."

After the age of four, the children are welcomed to the "bambinat" then to the school located on either side of the family theater, which completes the educational and cultural function that Godin assigns to his "social palace". .

The family celebrations, that of childhood (since 1863) and that of work (since 1867), take place, in May and September, in the interior courtyard of the central pavilion.

These ritualized festivals have an almost immutable course. The staging of the 1933 holiday was inspired by an 1867 Labor Day engraving. Godin comments in Social solutions : "These solemnities of the familistère are a grandiose spectacle, and very apt to make members understand the distance that separates them from the state of abandonment in which they once found themselves in the isolated house. In the social palace, the working population, without leaving their homes, gives themselves the spectacle of the honors which are due to them. The proclamation of the merits of industrial practice and the proclamation of the progress of childhood takes place in the presence of parents, friends and the many curious people drawn from all parts of the canton. Small difference, the bust of the founder now dominates the platform where the rewards are given to children or deserving workers.

This Labor Day, as some local scholars have claimed, should not be equated with Labor Day, the 1er May: the feast of the familistère is rooted in a tradition of social harmony and not of class struggle.

Interpretation

The familistère functions as a closed world, but this closure involves a break with the ideals of Jean-Baptiste Godin. After 1880, when Godin had made the familistériens of the shareholders, the partners would reduce their descendants and, thanks to the facilities they enjoyed for their studies, the children of the first workers would constitute a privileged caste which enjoyed substantial social advantages and whose interests will diverge from those of the mass of workers who do not live in the familistère. These tensions will lead, much later, in 1968, to the takeover of the association - factory and collective housing - by a classic capitalist enterprise.

This functional whole where each activity has its space - the factory and the production, the familistère and the residence, the commissary and the trade, the children's institutions and the education, the theater, the various societies and the leisures - can be read as a world for everyone to watch by all. This is not what the last inhabitants remembered, all imbued with values ​​that they have nostalgic for.

  • workers city
  • childhood
  • Fourierism
  • hygiene
  • maternity
  • workers
  • Second Empire
  • socialism
  • childcare
  • childcare
  • working class

Bibliography

Annick BRAUMAN et al/, Jean-Baptiste André Godin, 1817-1888. The Guise familistère or the equivalents of wealth, second revised and expanded edition, catalog of the Brussels-Paris exhibition, Archives of modern architecture - Center national d'art et de culture Georges-Pompidou, 1980.

COLLECTIVE, The Familistère Godin à Guise, Living in Utopia, Paris, Editions de la Villette, coll. "Thinking Space", 1982.

Henri DESROCHE, The Festive Society: from written Fourierism to practiced Fourierism, Paris, Seuil, 1975.

Jean-Baptiste André GODIN, Social solutions, presentation and notes by Jean-Luc PINOL and Jean-François REY, reflections by René RABAUX, administrator-manager of the familistère from 1933 to 1954, Quimperlé, Éditions La Digitale, 1871, reprint. 1979.

To cite this article

Jean-Luc PINOL, "Making a Utopia: Daily Life at the Godin Familiar"


Video: Cream by David Firth


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