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Taking the plunge: From observation to an ethnographic analysis of the Paris public baths

Claire Lévy-Vroelant 1
1 CRH - Centre de Recherche sur l'Habitat
LAVUE - Laboratoire Architecture, Ville, Urbanisme, Environnement
Abstract : This paper reports on a collective survey conducted in the Paris municipal public baths by students of sociology at the University of Paris 8, under their teacher’s supervision. The analysis, based on selected extracts from fieldwork diaries, focuses on the performativity of interactions. These interactions lead to the production of a social space, shared by all the participating actors: users, employees, and observers. The inventiveness of the strategies implemented by the students results as much from their social characteristics as from a research method that brought together all their fieldwork experiences during collective sessions. These establishments are both public and private, because they are dedicated to bodily care, and appear to be regulated by tensions between three principles: anonymity, hospitality, and hostility. The conclusion emphasizes the ambiguity of these spaces, which are deeply vulnerable and at the same time expressive of solidarity and even a spirit of resistance, which can be detected only through observation.
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Contributor : Emmanuelle Dedenon <>
Submitted on : Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 3:42:01 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 10:28:30 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02640916, version 1


Claire Lévy-Vroelant. Taking the plunge: From observation to an ethnographic analysis of the Paris public baths. Espaces et sociétés (Paris, France), Erès, 2016, 1-2 (164-165), pp.127-142. ⟨halshs-02640916⟩



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