Mainly in summer holidays, we observe millions of people at the beaches. Of course there are other groups of people visiting the beach like the winter bathers & the romantic ones.
Either millions or some few, those gatherings are social facts that produce community links, group relations & social ceremonies. The sociologist Jean Didier Urbain analyses the way those social facts & the underlying behaviors are integrated by society as necessary functions of it. When integrated they can only reproduce the social models of stratification & class structure. Like all social facts they carry the history of their organization & development. That means that we find in any modern social fact some elements of previous phases of development.
He starts from the history of the development of the bathing habits & behaviors in the 19th century and reaches the contemporary period of the body worship. The 19th century witnesses two kinds of approach of the beach: the romantic one, that of poets, artists and scholars who views the beach as an island of inspiration and the approach of the medicine.
The 20th century saw the victory of the human body freedom & its transformation into a channel of symbolic messages.
The author develops his theoretical & analytical approach within the axis of the Robinson Crusoe adventure. He compares the search of community relations on the beach to the research of a secret & lonely island away from society like the one on which the true Robinson Crusoe lived in the 18th century. At the beach, the population of the organized society splits into tribes where each one develops its own & differentiated linguistic code in order to establish a symbolic & mythological occupation of the land.
I have taken the winter bathers of Volos at the Plakes beach as example to analyze through the analytical grid of J.D.Urbain in order to examine the value of his concepts. I found that some of them could be applied to this group of people. Like the tribes characteristics, the medicine myths, the group dynamic & solidarity, thus conducting in the structure of a small human group with true identity & personality living a status & not playing roles like the summer people at the beach.