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Title: The social experience of building construction work in and around Paris during the 1960s
Author: Paskins, J. F.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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My thesis explores the social experience of building construction work in and around Paris during the 1960s. My examination of construction sites shifts the focus of architectural history away from the personality of the architect by considering the wider public discourses of urban development. Building sites became spaces that expressed preoccupations about economic growth, labour immigration and the demolition of working-class districts. Drawing on media archives and rarely examined trade union material, my research reveals voices of publics usually excluded from narratives of the production of the city. My thesis contributes to a history of the experience of urban change. My first chapter considers building sites from an international perspective, and explores discourses of French national identity with regards to urban transformation. I analyse debates about economic productivity, technology and labour immigration. Chapter Two examines media representation of building sites, and in particular considers how state television helped contribute to a discourse of Gaullist nationalism. Chapter Three explores the living conditions of construction workers. I analyse the existence of bidonvilles on the edge of Paris in the context of modernist architectural and urban theory. I examine how the popular press made an explicit connection between immigrant workers and crime, and I chart the attempts to improve living conditions for construction workers in France. Chapter Four investigates how state urban development overlooked the social impact of construction projects on existing communities. I analyse how local residents protested against the construction of suburban housing estates, roads and airports, and explore how community groups proposed alternative solutions. Finally, in Chapter Five I analyse how the French media and building workers’ unions used the phenomenon of construction accidents to push their respective political and social agendas. Interpreted by different parties for differing reasons, construction disasters became the centre of debates about the social implications of modernising Paris.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available