The food assistance and private dress was not born in the mid 1980s but it took at that time a development that would allow almost talking about revival. The multiplication of initiatives, the increase in tonnages distributed, the appearance of new forms of supply and inventory management, administration of the rescued populations as well as the emergence of volunteer profiles and reasons for engagement unknown until 'then are the most obvious signs of this renewal and of the reconfiguration of the field considered.
“Natural” behaviors in the commercial world then gain the humanitarian scene and, in particular, the food sector where they are not only noted, but erected in conduits (to be kept!) And formalized in principle: programming of objectives, concern for professionalism , accounting techniques, management of "personnel", recourse to managerial rhetoric, etc. These changes, subsumed under the terms of rationalization or even “corporate culture”, are now well known by researchers .
It is advisable, however, to “think by case 2 To avoid overinterpretations and presuppositions. In fact, the process of rationalization takes variable forms depending on the associative configurations: some of them induce it, others undergo it and adapt to it as best they can, others still slow it down. In addition, the practices, convictions, expectations that emerge from free cars goodwill industries entrepreneurial standards do not penetrate the associative world without being imported into it by particular actors and without generating resistance or provoking tensions that run through associations as well as the individuals who support them. . But let us specify at the outset that having deserted the ground for several years now, we have no pretension to have to date led the ethnographic program capable of clarifying all these aspects.
The description of the evolution of the rescue systems to which we proceeded from an empirical research on the forms of food and clothing solidarity deployed in a localized space (the city of Nantes) during a limited historical sequence (from 1930 to present) has however allowed to identify, from the lines of "associative generations" who have succeeded, the metamorphoses of the gift 3. Although the understanding of transformations is very much related to the socio-historical approach, we will content ourselves here with focusing our attention on the recent period. Our questions will focus on the sociological issues raised by the imposition of new modes of action and the confrontation, within the associations in question, of actors with increasingly different trajectories and ethos. But beforehand, it is important to specify what it requires for an association to satisfy, today, the food distribution.