“Family” or “community”
This paper examines the use of words of kinship in the discourse and daily life of a religious order, based on a case study of the Daughters of Charity, from the 1840s to the end of the 1930s. Presented as a surrogate family for the sisters, community life was modelled on the family ideal to describe its members, to organise everyday relationships, and to create an institutional uniformity characterised by a spirit specific to one’s religious family. The everyday kinship of the sisters, however, must not take on a familiar form as perceived by the religious institution. Although the family discourse bound together the various dimensions that organised collective life in the institution, community life was distinct from family life and had to attest to a different reality. Not only was the “natural” family at a distance, but everyday behaviour also had to move away from the bourgeois family model that valued affection, requiring a renewed formation in the interwar period.