It led to benefits that are integral to the modern state, such as holiday allocation, retirement payments and social security. Rather than the s, the term refers to the year period between the end of World War II and The impact was most keenly felt in places where fighting had actually taken place, such as France, where large swathes of land were destroyed by gunfire or bombing. To help deal with these issues, Britain, for example, started the National Health Service and commissioned the construction of large blocks of council housing. But building houses and roads was expensive and money was urgently needed by governments whose budgets had been torn apart by the war. Designed by these countries themselves to decide where and how to spend the money, the plan was a huge success.
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Introduction Europe saw many changes in the immediate post-war period. In part these changes were brought about by a prosperity that was largely the result of a stable world order — an international order led by the Americans — in which major investments took place to rebuild national economies damaged by war.
In many European countries — and France is certainly no exception here — there was an unbroken period of economic prosperity and rising standards of living which lasted until the s. Ross: p. Industrial production was down to half of its pre- war level and agriculture was at a complete standstill due to an absence of men and machinery. The injunction everywhere was to produce produire!
France was soon on its feet with industrial output up to pre-war levels by This was largely achieved by a number of initiatives. Firstly, there was the active role of the state in industry oversaw the nationalisation of public utilities e. As a result of these nationalisations, France became the most state-controlled capitalist country in the world. Another factor behind economic recovery was the Marshall Aid Plan an American initiative which gave grants, loans and subsidies to struggling post-war nations.
There was a clear link, then, between production and reproduction, conception and consumption. Immigration too played a central role in the economic modernisation and growth that characterises les trente glorieuses. The New Affluence Les trente glorieuses witnessed rapid economic growth. Both industry and agriculture were undergoing a process of increasing modernisation. As a result of full employment, rising wages, and increasing holiday provision, new patterns of consumption and leisure activities began to emerge.
A newly affluent working-class began to enjoy a higher standard of living than ever before in the history of France. The higher incomes and increased spending power of post-war France, and in particular, of the s and s, was created by economic growth and rising productivity.
Frenchmen and women enjoyed longer holidays: in little over a decade the average annual holiday had increased from three weeks in to four weeks in A number of consumer durables came to symbolise this new age of prosperity and consumer aspiration: the refrigerator, the washing machine, the television and the car. By the end of the s, for instance, 7.
In , for example, there were an estimated , cars in the Paris region. In , there were a million and in there were 2 million Ross: p. The Right Bank Expressway along the Seine was finished in This increase was due not just to higher standards of living but to motor vehicule manufacturers targetting a new mass market.
The Renault 4CV, launched in , and widely seen as the first truly affordable mass market French saloon car is a good example of this. Between and the population grew from Price: p. In housing conditions in the cities were little different from those of the nineteenth century.
The housing stock was old — most of it nineteenth-century — and lacking modern amenities like bathrooms, kitchens and running water. In more than a third of all households lacked running water and only Overcrowding was a major problem however. Housing stock was not only in poor condition but it was also in high demand. Increasing numbers of Frenchmen and women were moving from the country to the city and, just as important, increasing numbers of Frenchmen and women were deciding to have children.
The rising birth rate exacerbated the already serious problem of overcrowding. The ideal for most young couples in France was a modern home with all the now necessary amenities of modern living.
A model of cleanliness and logical design like the show kitchen featured in Femina pratique May below: As France grew wealthier, some sociologists were quick to note that French society was beginning to withdraw into the private space of the home.
The home became a space where new desires of comfortable, modern living were created. Happiness was to be found within the four walls of le foyer. From onwards, new building projects began to be realised — les grandes ensembles — often supplanting as well as complementing existing housing stock.
At its peak, some , properties — modern, sanitised, standardised and suburban — were created each year. One striking example of the council estates created after was Sarcelles situated near Le Bourget airport. Interestingly enough, it had a population of over 40, yet had neither secondary school nor cultural centre. It created a new kind of psychological depression or new- town blues that rapidly acquired its own name: Sarcellitis. The Rural Exodus The principal migratory movement from the middle of the nineteenth century until the late s was from rural to urban.
In those one hundred or so years, France experienced a rural exodus as more and more people moved from jobs in agriculture in the countryside to jobs in industry and the service sector in the cities and the suburbs of France. Changes in transport infrastructure from the nineteenth century onwards, like the construction of the railways, and cultural factors like the increased provision of primary education and the introduction of military service opened new horizons for many young men and women who would have otherwise spent their lives in the field or the farmhouse.
This process of urban deconcentration was necessary due to the shortage, and general poor quality of housing stock in urban centres and was made possible by the large-scale construction of housing estates on the edges of most French cities.
The most common population pattern in nineteenth-century Europe was rapid growth with fertility rates exceeding mortality rates in countries like Britain and Germany.
This was not the case in France, however, which experienced a period of population stagnation caused by low levels of fertility due to a desire to limit inheritance to fewer children, the practice of coitus interruptus, comparatively late marriage of women and higher levels of celibacy and higher than average levels of infant mortality due to poor sanitation, nutrition and healthcare. In , for example, the birth rate in France was 25 per 1, as opposed to 35 per 1, in Britain.
This low level of fertility continued into the twentieth century and, indeed, was exacerbated by such events as the First World War which claimed 1. During the years of the Third Republic , successive French governments adopted a pronatalist line, i.
In the s, for example, both abortion and the sale of contraceptives were prohibited and in the Code de la famille was introduced with a range of financial incentives for married couples with children.
Between those years the number of births 14 million in France greatly exceeded the number of deaths 9 million. The rates of infant mortality fell and more and more young couples, encouraged by state incentives family allowances, tax relief, housing allowances, cheaper transport and cinema tickets etc.
A negative side of this increase in the birth rate was the conservative attitude to gender roles that accompanied it. Women returned to the home — le retour au foyer — and a climate of what one might call regressive sexual politics prevailed. The changing attitudes of women to work, the availability of contraception legalised in under la Loi Neuwirth and abortion legalised in under la Loi Veil led to a change in cultural attitudes and a slowing down of the birth rate in France.
Conclusion French society then, was undergoing a period of rapid change but in many important ways it also remained profoundly untouched. It remained a society in which class, race and gender inequality was perpetuated despite the apparent transformations within the fabric of French society.
Sign-up France has had — and continues, in many respects, to have — such an overpowering influence in the realms of high culture, intellectual discourse and the production of art that it is often forgotten that the French are as given to flightier things as the rest of us. Of course, none of this is necessarily a bad thing. For decades Serge Gainsbourg was best known to Anglophones for writing a naughty song supposedly containing real sounds of him and Jane Birkin copulating and for drunkenly propositioning Whitney Houston on a talk show. It is for this reason that the recent spate of biopics devoted to French pop culture icons of the post-war era has made only a limited dent in the English-speaking world. It was prime Oscar material, providing ample opportunity for grandstanding to an actress not always known for the subtlety of her acting.
Les "Trente Glorieuses"
Les Trois Glorieuses