Dissertation Abstracts

Home As a Problem and As a Solution: A Genealogical Perspective of Domesticity Construction through Social Policies. Argentina 1890-1940

Author: Aguilar , Paula Lucía , aguilarpl@gmail.com
Department: Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani - Facultad de Ciencias Sociales
University: Universidad de Buenos Aires , Argentina
Supervisor: Estela Grassi / Susana Murillo
Year of completion: 2012
Language of dissertation: Spanish

Keywords: Social Policy , Geneology , Domesticity , Gender
Areas of Research: Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Historical and Comparative Sociology , Work


This dissertation analyzes the configuration of domesticity in light of the discursive strategies produced by experts and reformers on the working and living conditions of the population and the intervention methods associated with them between 1890 and 1940. Based on this research, we can define domesticity as an effect of multiple sets of practices and discourses, forms of problematization, which converge in defining moral attributes, social spaces, and tasks as belonging to "the domestic" realm understood as an area bounded in opposition to the market and the "public sphere" and whose boundaries are constantly changing.
We propose here a genealogical perspective that seeks, through meticulous archival work, to account for the specific ways in which certain themes of social issues are organized in the field of singular objects constituting domesticity. This research made it possible to identify the emergence of home as a point of convergence of assessments and proposals to reform the work and living conditions of the population. Thus, a set of specific knowledge, grids of intelligibility and practical schemes modeled the “home” as food for thought, and as a device that enables government, while constituting its material and symbolic boundaries. It analyses the ways in which the home of the working classes became a matter of concern in defining social problems and the privileged object potential social policy interventions: as a problem and a solution.
Chapter I raises the conceptual and analytical relationship between domesticity and social policies and the ways they are set in the period covered by this thesis. Chapter II describes the debate about working conditions and the way “home” emerges as opposed to the workshop (as a paradigm of work outside its boundaries) and the challenges for the creation of a domestic ideal that led to the extension of home work. Chapter III departs from the definition of home as a living space and it is one of the basic forms of the questioning of the living conditions of the working classes in the period. Here, we examine the diagnoses on housing conditions as a social problem and the ways in which domesticity is implied in them. Chapter IV describes expertise and specific tasks prescribed for any “house” to become “home” with the beneficial effects which are attributed to that passage. This chapter focuses on the description of knowledge and practices that are prescribed for home "good governance", their circulation and specific modes that are built everyday. Chapter V discusses the ways in which the home becomes intelligible to the State institutions and examines qualitative and quantitative information produced both by sociography and the emerging social statistics as well as practices of social assistance, including visits and interviews, understood both as tools of empirical and scientific legitimacy for state intervention. Finally Chapter VI describes the analytical operations from which it has been possible to recognize “home” as a point of convergence of multiple concerns, both as a problem and a solution. It sums up the specific contents that built the configuration of domesticity in the period covered by this dissertation, while proposing an analytical consideration of domesticity as a tool for the analysis of contemporary social policies.

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