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November 2022

Med Ges Gesch. 1993 ; 12(): 101-46.

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Mathieu J.

With the rapid increase in literacy during the second half of the 19th century, impersonal and variable sources of information were added to the oral discourse on health and cleanliness for growing segments of the population. Based on a Swiss sample of seventy popular journals and calendars, this article analyses the historical context, the means and effects of this process. It argues that the texts on medical hygiene in popular literature confirmed the social values of bourgeois classes and, at the same time, formed a cultural force of their own. Producing a somewhat diffuse knowledge, they changed prevailing attitudes. Over lengthy periods of time, this "opened" culture could combine with traditional modes of behaviour.

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