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Population in the Human SciencesConcepts, Models, Evidence$
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Philip Kreager, Bruce Winney, Stanley Ulijaszek, and Cristian Capelli

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199688203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688203.001.0001

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Populations for Studying the Causes of Britain’s Fertility Decline

Populations for Studying the Causes of Britain’s Fertility Decline

communication communities

(p.172) Chapter 6 Populations for Studying the Causes of Britain’s Fertility Decline
Population in the Human Sciences

Simon Szreter

Oxford University Press

It is proposed that the concept of communication communities can provide a theoretical formulation of the distinctive form of population which is most relevant for studies of Britain’s fertility decline, c.1860–1940. Communication communities enable micro and macro, synchronic and diachronic, qualitative and quantitative modes of analysis to be brought into articulation together. It is argued that change in fertility behaviour needs to be contextualized through the study of changes in the perceived relative costs and benefits of childrearing, not parity alone. Attention is additionally drawn to the importance of sterility, which is responsible for the wide degree of variability ubiquitously found in human fertility. This is a key consideration which facilitates the proposition that communication communities can form a foundational theoretical component for both understanding and explaining fertility change, including secular fertility declines in large aggregates, such as national populations.

Keywords:   populations, communication communities, fertility decline, Britain 1860–1940, childrearing, perceived relative costs, sterility

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