Sarah Fishman

From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution

Gender and Family Life in Postwar France

Oxford University Press 2017

New Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 29, 2017 Roxanne Panchasi

In her latest book, From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution: Gender and Family Life in Postwar France (Oxford University Press, 2017), Sarah Fishman offers...

In her latest book, From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution: Gender and Family Life in Postwar France (Oxford University Press, 2017), Sarah Fishman offers reader a social history of French families in the years that followed the Second World War. Fishman is focused here on illuminating the daily and practical lives of the men, women, and children who worked and often struggled to transition from wartime to peacetime. After 1945, French families had to negotiate a variety of changes that shaped, and were shaped by, shifting ideas and attitudes about gender roles and relations, love, sexuality, marriage, and parenting. To access the lives of French working and lower-middle class families, Fishman draws on a wide range of sources, including previously neglected popular press publications that reflected the politics and experiences of working people. She also uses juvenile court records from the period that detail family lives and dynamics, as well as state and societal norms and expectations.

Tracing the contours of a broad transformation from a vision of family centered on (paternal) authority to an emphasis on relationships, including fatherhood, the book also considers the impact of the ideas of figures like Freud, Beauvoir, and Kinsey on the everyday beliefs and behaviors of ordinary people. Attentive to the continuities and changes that ran throughout the period from 1940 to the late 1960s, the book places the postwar in a context that remembers the war while also setting the stage for the eruption of French political, social, and cultural life in 1968.


Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. Her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send an email to: [email protected].

*The music that opens and closes the podcast is an instrumental version of Creatures, a song written by Vancouver artist/musician Casey Wei (performing as hazy). To hear more, please visit https://agonyklub.com/.

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