Early socialization and familial structure during the baby boom. Sex education as familial education in France (1930-1960)

Virginie De Luca Barrusse, Université de Picardie Jules Verne

My communication focuses on sex education that is considered in France as one of the vectors of parenthood's standard. Sex education concerns the family affairs since sexuality has inexorably been associated with procreation, at least up to the 1960s. This intricacy is essential for understanding the link between sex education and preparation to family life. By realising to what extent sexual issues and especially the implications of sexuality are poorly known, sex education has progressively come across as a central device in preparing adolescent and young adults and to family life. I would like to show that sex education contributes to building a parental vocation. It makes adolescents become aware of the fact of "becoming a parent" is quite natural. It repeated, while producing them, a number of "natural dispositions" to becoming a parent. Besides, sex education prescribes ideal configurations on the basis of criteria such as the age when getting married, the age at the birth of the first child, the size of the family… Through a set of normalising recommendations, the aim of sex education was to promote family. Sex education was a preparation to marriage, to family life. This was the French model of sex education. Parenthood largely prevailed over conjugality. Such was not the case in Great-Britain, Germany for example where conjugality is more present and earlier. The weight of the demographic issues and of the catholic movements accounted for that French singularity. One can wonder whether, the “golden age” of family, during the baby boom years, was not born out of these injunctions and of these family models which had been hammered home in devices. At that time, a model of ideal family, with two, three children at the most, was formed. The link between early socialisation and the familial structure should be enlighted.

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Presented in Session 45: Demographic discourses in the 18-20th century