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The Individual and the trials at home

Valérie Sacriste

Research Framework: Home has been the subject of numerous analyzes showing its importance in the process of individualization, but its difficulties and tensions have been little studied. This article focuses on these aspects.

Objectives: Aiming to show how being at home can also be a source of trials for individuals, it leads to many constraints or vicissitudes in the experimentation of oneself and the appropriation of one’s life.

Methodology: The analysis is based on a comprehensive qualitative survey, based on 40 semi-structured interviews conducted jointly or remotely with individuals from the middle class, rather young, active, living for the most part in Paris and Île-de-France, in apartments of which they are generally the tenants.

Results: From this survey, the article identifies four types of tests depending on whether this concerns the process of installation, appropriation, its management or its loss. It thus shows how the difficulties in its access, its mobility, its personalization, its invasion, the tediousness of its tasks and its relation to objects, as well as its loss (real or symbolic) are ordeals that can lead to the feeling of destabilization, misappropriation, fatigue and ruin, of oneself.

Conclusion: The trials of home lead to questioning the notion of the refuge of oneself that the home embodies in the modern imagination and in particular in its dimensions of lair and landmarks.

Contribution: This article wants to draw attention to the fact that home has become a source of daily trials. Somewhat underestimated because of the housing crisis, its problem constitutes a reality whose stakes are crucial regarding the process of individualization in the construction and ownership of the self.