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Des pionniers autoconstructeurs aux coopérateurs : histoire des Castors en Aquitaine

Abstract : In Aquitaine, initiatives known as castorat1, a multi-faceted cooperative movement, represent a variety of alternatives to deal with inadequate public policies, when "civil society" takes action to solve the housing problem by itself. The emergence of a movement of this kind is linked to the acute nature of the housing problem, in a region in which the gradual nature of industrialization, or industrialisation douce2, has not facilitated awareness by the urban elites of the existence of this social issue. The so-called nonchalance of the Aquitaine region, made up of a mixture of dissidence and independence, militates in favour of moderation, a major factor in the absence of social municipalism despite the remarkable presence of marginal and innovative initiatives. The Castors have generated from their spontaneous mobilization a new model of cooperative action, stemming from their opposition to national actions that they neither believe in nor identify with. Although their achievements are not quantitatively substantial in the context of the overall constructions of the postwar period of reconstruction, growth and prosperity (the Trente Glorieuses), their action is nonetheless innovative because of its human dimension. What the Castors promote is not so much a housing solution as a way of living, focused around their predilection for individual detached houses. The case of the Aquitaine Castors, which represents what we would call the militant phase of the movement, is an illustration of the early pioneering days at the origins of the movement. From the pioneers who built their own homes (the autoconstructeurs) during the reconstruction of 1945, a useful and necessary palliative, to the members of the cooperatives from the time of the chemins de grue3, protesting against the collective housing promoted by the State, these experiments are atypical achievements promoting owner-occupied detached houses during a period characterized by collective housing. Between tradition and modernity, the ideology underlying the creation of these cooperatives hints at a new form of urban living, drawing its inspiration from traditional forms of social life and highlighting social changes between the world of the working class and that of the emerging middle class. These urban success stories, inspired by private initiative and rooted in the working class, stand out as myths of France's postwar period of growth and prosperity, the Trente Glorieuses, and have entered popular imagination as a collective and community-based commitment for greater well-being. These little Castor houses are visible traces of this history in contemporary townscapes and are part of our heritage which deserves to be treated with respect, as a neglected fragment of the memories of our towns.
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Contributor : Julie Boustingorry <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 6:18:54 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 7:12:15 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00707514, version 1

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Julie Boustingorry. Des pionniers autoconstructeurs aux coopérateurs : histoire des Castors en Aquitaine. Histoire. Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, 2008. Français. ⟨tel-00707514⟩

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