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The New Rural Home

Gender and Rural Modernization in Postwar France

Sheila Nowinski

After World War II, France’s rural Catholic youth associations (Jeunesse agricole catholique [JAC] and its sister organization, Jeunesse agricole catholique féminine [JACF]) organized a traveling home expo for agrarian families. The Rural Home Expo promoted a vision of rural modernization that drew on gendered models of postwar consumerism, economic development, and Catholic teaching on the family. The new rural home envisioned by JAC helped popularize and advance policies to industrialize French agriculture. By the mid-1950s, female activists resisted the gendered division of labor on which this vision was based. In 1957, JACF shifted its mission to promote women’s participation in the agricultural profession.