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The Cleanliness of the Child between Social Standards and Care Concerns (16th-20th centuries, France)

TitleThe Cleanliness of the Child between Social Standards and Care Concerns (16th-20th centuries, France)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsParayre S
Secondary TitleItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Date Published10/2017
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2035-4983
Keywordsbody, children, cleanliness, school

In this article we looked for transformations in hygiene standards for the children from the 16th century to 20th century in France. We will present the modifications in the practices that had been induced by new conceptions, and show how physical cleanliness became a central element in society. To conduct this research, we analyzed and compared a variety of sources, whether medical (books and medical journals, reports), educational (books, journals, reports, treatises, official documents from the ministry of education, maps, lithographies) and literary classics (dictionaries, books). We will present our result in different sections. The section Washing: from safeguarding honor to preserving the body will present the definitions, conceptions and practices of cleanliness from the 16th to the 18th century. The following changes introduced new considerations of the body, based on both protection and new principles of civilization. Sections Hygiene to aid morality: civilizing the lower classes thanks to body cleanliness and Hygiene as the savior of all the people or the era of bacteriology will focus on the period from the 19th century to the Second World War. We will show how conceptions varied among the educational, medical, social and political players. We will show initiatives of some protagonists, opposite forms of knowledge and practices between various social categories and how a new conception emerged based on well-being during the last decades of the 20th century.