Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860-1940

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Fertility, class and gender in Britain, 1860-1940 offers an original interpretation of the history of falling fertilities. It integrates the approaches of the social sciences and of demographic, gender and labour history with intellectual, social and political history. Dr Szreter excavates the history and exposes the statistical inadequacy of the long-standing orthodoxy of a national, unitary class-differential fertility decline. A new analysis of the famous 1911 fertility census presents evidence for over 200 occupational categories, showing many diverse fertility regimes, differentiated by distinctively gendered labour markets and changing family roles. Surprising and important findings emerge: births were spaced from early in marriage; sexual abstinence by married couples was far more significant than previously imagined. A new general approach to the study of fertility change is proposed; also a new conception of the relationship between class, community and fertility change; and a new evaluation of the positive role of feminism. Fertility, class and gender continually raises central issues concerning the relationship between history and social science.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This study has a good deal to offer. The book is valuable..." Times Literary Supplement

"This work is a blockbuster of a book; it is monumental in size and scope, iconoclastic in its revisionism, and brilliant in its argumentation...his thesis, supported by massive empirical evidence, turns the traditional theory of the demographic revolution on its head. It deserves to be taken seriously and, if possible, answered by those whom he has so strikingly refuted." The Historian

"...this important book is part of a new movement by historians and anthropologists to put the decline of fertility in a much broader and more complex social and cultural perspective." David I. Kertzer, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Among the many strengths of this rich, provacative, and highly original contribution to the numerous studies of declining fertility in Europe and Great Britain that have appeared over the past half century is the way Szreter juxtaposes his own work to this diverse historiographical tradition....There is enough in this masterfully researched book to excite, confront, and irritate a wide range of readers, but for anyone interested in historical demography and the way it can be studied in the context of modern (and postmodern) social, economic, political, and cultural history, Szreter's book must be near the top of the list of essential and innovative works to be consulted." Richard A. Soloway, Albion

"This work is a blockbuster of a book; it is monumental in size and scope, iconoclastic in its revisionism, and brilliant in its argumentation." Harold Perkin,

"This work is a blockbuster of a book; it is monumental in size and scope, iconoclastic in its revisionism, and brilliant in its argumentation." Harold Perkin, The Historian

"...Simon Szreter's big, ambitious book make some solid contributions to our understanding of the way the British demographic transition may have occurres by encouraging a healthy skepticism towards one of the classic sources of British demography and demonstrating the value of microdemographic approaches to complex questions of social change." KAtherine A. Lynch, Journal of Social History

"...this is a fine work of social history whose author fears neither quantitative nor qualitative theoretical approaches and so by their combination provides us with a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the major question of fertility decline than we have enjoyed to date." Carl Ipsen, Victorian Studies

"This work is a blockbuster of a book; it is monumental in size and scope, iconoclastic in its revisionism, and brilliant in its argumentation." Harold Perkin, The HIstorian

"...fascinating and provocative.... There is much of interest in this densely packed book, and I unhesitantly recommend it to anyone interested in public health, sexual behavior, and fertility change." James G. Hanley, Ph.D.; Journal of the History of Medicine

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of tables
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The construction and the study of the fertility decline in Britain: social science and history 9
2 Social classification of occupations and the GRO in the nineteenth century 76
3 Social classification and nineteenth-century naturalistic social science 129
4 The emergence of a social explanation of class inequalities among environmentalists, 1901-1904 182
5 The emergence of the professional model as the official system of social classification, 1905-1928 238
6 A test of the coherence of the professional model of class-differential fertility decline 283
7 Multiple fertility declines in Britain: occupational variation in completed fertility and nuptiality 310
8 How was fertility controlled? The spacing versus stopping debate and the culture of abstinence 367
9 A general approach to fertility change and the history of falling fertilities in England and Wales 443
10 Social class, communities, gender and nationalism in the study of fertility change 533
Appendices 603
A Copy of 1911 census household schedule 604
B Copy of sample pages from 1911 census Fertility of Marriage Report, Part 2, Tables 30 and 35 (respectively, the tabulations for incomplete and completed fertility for male occupations) 606
C Male occupations rank ordered by completed fertility index, AM2/81-5 608
D Male occupations: Industrial Orders and employment status variables 614
E Male occupations rank ordered by incomplete fertility index, AM2/01-5 620
F Male occupations rank ordered by AM25PC20 (the extent to which older-marrying couples restrict fertility more than younger-marrying couples) 626
G Female occupations rank ordered by incomplete fertility index, AM2/01-5 632
H Estimate of the scale of effect of differing infant mortality levels on reported fertility after 7.5 years of marriage 634
Bibliography 636
Index 675
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