conclusion
The trauma and devastation of war weighed heavily on France throughout
the 1920s and 1930s and reinforced the e√ects of gender di√erence on eco-
nomic and social policies and practices. Gender divisions and inequalities in
employment mattered greatly in shaping the intimate details of economic
recovery, concepts of citizenship, and the social policies that they generated,
and in turn laid the foundations of the French social model: the broad
package of rights and social benefits of the French welfare state. This book
has shown how post–World War I attempts to reconstruct society and the
labor force mobilized the meanings of masculinity and femininity in the
enactment of new policies. The state’s e√orts to rehabilitate male authority in
the family and men’s privileged position in work have often been under-
emphasized in historians’ accounts of postwar recovery. Yet this agenda
exerted a powerful influence in shaping opportunities for both men and
women—and particularly the practices of economic citizenship—after 1919.
Arguably, France’s ongoing demographic crisis, an object of national con-
cern before 1914 and a matter of renewed anxiety in the context of France’s
high wartime mortality, exerted enormous influence on the postwar recon-
stitution of gender norms. The revalorization of motherhood that historians
have observed in the aftermath of wars and other disasters was accompanied
by state e√orts to give new recognition to the social value of fatherhood, with
advantages to fathers that verged on radically revising the exercise of citizen-
ship. At the same time French legislators repeatedly rejected the expansion of
political rights for women. The simultaneous social critique of those who
resisted maternity and paternity constituted critical armatures of the cultural
foundation upon which the rebuilding of France occurred.
The economic e√ects of these moves to a≈rm the boundaries of sexual
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