Issue n° 33

Notion : Solidarity, Marie-Claude Blais (University of Rouen)

The idea of solidarity developed in the course of the nineteenth century to respond to the difficulty of conceptualising the connection between individuals who had been deemed free and equal before the law by the Revolution. The metaphor of organism emerged at the time accompanied by notions of function, association and of cooperation – based on a form of Christian humanism such as that to be found in, for example, the work of Pierre Leroux. New theoretical models appeared then in the work of Renouvier, Fouillée and Durkheim around the notion of the social contract. The ‘solidarism’ of Léon Bourgeois gave it a credible political form and it became the doctrine of the Third Republic. Socialising people and teaching solidarity became central aims to be promoted by the school – not without giving rise to difficulties concerning pedagogy. Today the notion is enjoying a revival of interest but its rather indiscriminate use gives rise to numerous problems that Marie-Claude Blais analyses in her final section.

Report: Theories of education and social reformers

Presentation, Dominique Ottavi (University Paris VIII) and Jean-François Marchat (University of Limoges)

Frédéric Le Play, theorist of a liberal education, Antoine Savoye (University Paris VIII)

An engineer and professor at the Ecole des Mines, Le Play was firstly notable for his attempts to make management in industry aware of social issues. This he pursued through courses, placements and inquiries. Indeed he participated actively in debates about education at the time of the revolution of 1848 and subsequently under the Third Republic at the time that the school as conceived by Jules Ferry was being set up. Two convictions motivated him: that education within the family is irreplaceable and that schooling should be free. He was sceptical regarding compulsion and absence of fees and he had reservations about the principles of laïcité or secular neutrality. He believed that state interventions should be limited. The outcome of these two positions led to two preoccupations: that the education of youth should be thought of as preparation for an occupation; that social progress is connected to the development of a social science of which he was the pioneer and whose he method he defined: field work investigations of working-class families.

Buchez et Le Play : the approach to education of two schools of Catholic economic thought, Jean-François Marchat (University of Limoges)

Two strands of thought draw on the same inheritance of the French Revolution and of Catholicism and this inheritance was to produce the social Catholicism of the twentieth century. But the inquiry conducted by J.-F. Marchat shows that they differ on almost everything: the historic role that they attribute to Catholicism; their definition of education and of instruction; the role they attribute to schooling; their conception of apprenticeship; their conception of the structures within the educational system. More centrally Buchez adopts the position of Condorcet, taken up by the followers of Saint-Simon, on the distinction between instruction and education. The latter is reserved for the private sphere and he considers that schooling, an element of progress, leads to social justice. Le Play is very clear on this point. Universal schooling can lead to disorder and to the removal of working class children from their milieu and, he believes that education should be envisaged in global terms in every sphere of socialisation. Neither supports state involvement but the followers of Buchez advocate associative versions of popular education. Le Play is in favour of the English model of private institutions under the shared authority of parents and teachers. In fact it is possible to interpret their contrasting readings of the Revolution. Buchez sees it as bringing to fruition the deepest aspirations of Christianity towards equality and fraternity, whereas Le Play sees it as undermining the very basis of Christianity.

Félicien Parizet (1807-1886): a study of schooling in the Occitan region, Hervé Terral (University of Toulouse-le Mirail)

In the direct tradition of research following the Le Play system, F. Parizet devoted himself during the years 1860-70 to sustained observations in the regions of le Lauragais et la Montagne Noire. The article shows, firstly, the extent to which, in the first half of the nineteenth century and beyond, the south of France seemed to observers a region of extreme poverty and ignorance. Next Hervé Terral presents the precise and detailed descriptions and analyses made by Parizet and the Terral demonstrates the slow and contrasting development of schooling and the obstacles that this development encountered. Even the republican project succeeded little in disturbing the traditional peasant beliefs, in particular concerning the education of girls.

Henri de Tourville and particularist education, Dominique Ottavi (University Paris VIII)

This article shows how the idea of Particularism was developed in the thought of H. de Tourville and how it was based on an imaginative archaeological reconstruction of the structure of certain social groups of emigrants in ancient Scandinavia. This hypothesis was incorporated into the Catholic tradition of a spiritual education founded on the pursuit of personal perfection and of mutual help between people. In the work of E. Demolins the primacy of education within the family and of taking care of oneself remains strong, but the l’Ecole des Roches developed a model of education designed towards assuming social and economic responsibilities based on that of the English aristocracy.

L’École d’Art Public of the Collège Libre des Sciences Sociales : town planning as an education in ‘applied sociology’, Catherine Bruant (Ladrhaus)

Inspired by ideas of Le Play, the Collège Libre des Sciences Sociales was set up in 1895 in order to devote itself to the dispassionate study of the major sociological, economic and political problems of the time. Under the banner of solidarism, it aspired to promote dialogue between socialism and social liberalism, but soon it was also requested to deal with preparation for careers in administration and management. In 1922, a School of Public Art was set up in the Collège devoted to the study of the social remit of art in two aspects – the effect of social phenomena on art and the effect of art on social phenomena. ‘Social science’ was understood as a theory capable of ‘explaining’ works of art and of informing action, particularly on the part of architects and town planners. The author shows that this movement was active in London, Brussels, Amsterdam and within international conferences. It was hugely involved in reconstruction projects of 1919. The post war years would see staff from the Collège play a part in the non-traditional universities while promoting the notion of a socially informed education in town planning.

Leplaysien social science and the question of education and professional guidance in the interwar years, Dominique Hocquard (CIO of Briey and University Paris VIII)

The idea of educational guidance appeared early in the twentieth century with the new education movement, but the author reminds us of the influence of the Leplaysiens, especially the teachers of l’Ecole des Roches and the principle of a ‘particularist’ education aiming to develop in children a spirit of initiative and cooperation, and of responsibility and active involvement in life. But other conceptions appeared – originally in the plans of the Ministry of Education. These conceptions concerned guidance, based on experimental psychology especially at primary level, aiming to direct pupils towards their future occupations. Then from the 1930s, the opening up of second level education witnessed the development of many strands and required another model: that of guidance based on success and merit. The article finally considers the development of manual activities particularly in institutions in Paris. This had the very Leplaysien aim of introducing future engineers to technical culture and ended with the setting up of guidance classes in 1937.

Ovide Decroly, a curriculum for a ‘school for life’ of a Leplaysien character ?, Sylvain Wagon (University Paris VIII)

Medically trained, Decroly took an interest in children in difficulty and in the educational questions raised by a society undergoing abrupt changes at the beginning of the twentieth century. He saw in the school an instrument of progress and of social justice and he set up a school in the suburbs of Brussels where he tried out new directions in pedagogy. His interest was in the training of specialist teachers and he played a role in the reform of the Belgian educational system. In all of these areas he met with Leplaysien ideas, widespread among socially aware Catholics. These ideas aimed at promoting social peace, at improving the conditions of the working class and at developing democracy. To this end it was necessary to improve the professional guidance available to pupils but it was also necessary to take action in respect of elite groups in society in order eventually to introduce a ‘common school’.

Document : The education of siblings in Alsace in the nineteenth century : The monograph of « Manœuvre à famille nombreuse » (Paris, 1861) : A view of popular education, Marie-Claire Quin de Stoppani (University Paris VIII)

The archive documents examined in this article inform us of the existence of a labourer’s family in Paris of the Second Empire. The family concerned was large, Catholic, needy and came from Alsace and the parents were keen to move up in society. The children attended school in l’œuvre de Saint-Joseph: the teaching aimed to provide literacy in French and the acquisition of the practical knowledge necessary to learn a trade, especially for boys. But the family context, where the father’s authority was supported by the demands of the mother, played a primary role in the education of the children.

Document : « Social reform in France » in Journal de Médecine Mentale, 1864, Benedict Gallet de Kulture

The interest of the account of La Réforme sociale en France by Frédéric Le Play that appeared in 1864 in the Journal de Médecine Mentale derives from the fact that it is contemporaneous with the first edition and can therefore inform us on the intellectual context of its appearance. Most of all, however, this interest is related to its focus on the problem of education. Proposals to remedy ‘intellectual and moral deficiencies’ emerge from this dimension of the project of social reform. This is clear from the sub-title of the review addressed as it is not only to doctors and psychiatrists but also to teachers. The account offers a very wide vision of education where education within the family plays an especially important role. The ‘traditional family’ subject to the authority of the father provides the basis of an education that foregrounds ‘moral development’.

Correspondence : Education seen through the prism of cosmopolitanism, David Hansen (Columbia UNiversity, NYC, USA)

Researchers today interested in the question of cosmopolitanism have to defend the concept from the charge of naïveté, of being disconnected from politics, of absence of moral grounding or of aestheticism. For D. Hansen, on the contrary, the cosmopolitan orientation has as its task the re-arrangement of the possibilities of exchange between the local and the universal, especially in the little explored area of education. Educational cosmopolitanism should be understood as a way of living negotiating between individual and communal diversity, avoiding the illusions offered by a return to ethnic or religious roots, and accepting that cultures are porous and that movement is possible between different cultures. Accordingly, as is shown by example of the Crows or of flamenco music, cosmopolitanism accommodates an on-going and creative reconstruction of tradition, a re-shaping of lives open to otherness. In this sense cosmopolitanism presupposes and develops intercultural creativity in its anthropological, aesthetic and individual dimensions.