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Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860–1940

Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860–1940

$103.00 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time

  • Date Published: July 2002
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521528689

$ 103.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This book examines the dramatic fall in family size that occurred in Britain between 1860 and 1940. It overturns current thinking by showing how much variety there was in the occupational patterns of falling fertility. There are entirely new and surprising findings: births were widely spaced from early in marriage; and sexual abstinence by married couples was far more important than previously imagined. This study uniquely integrates the fields of demographic, feminist and labor with intellectual and political history, and will be of interest to all historians, and social and policy scientists.

    • Offers a general framework for the study of fertility change
    • Presents novel thesis that England and Wales represent an historical culture of sexual abstinence and that abstinence within marriage was the principal method of birth control before the Great War
    • Integrates formerly disparate approaches: demographic, labour, and feminist history alongside intellectual, medical, political, and administrative history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "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

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521528689
    • length: 728 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 41 mm
    • weight: 1.05kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Historiographical Introduction: A Genealogy of Approaches:
    1. The construction and the study of the fertility decline in Britain: social science and history
    Part II. The Professional Model of Social Classes: An Intellectual History:
    2. Social classification of occupations and the GRO in the nineteenth century
    3. Social classification and nineteenth-century naturalistic social science
    4. The emergence of a social explanation of class inequalities among environmentalists, 1901–1904
    5. The emergence of the professional model as the official system of social classification, 1905–1928
    Part III. A New Analysis of the 1911 Census Occupational Fertility Data:
    6. A test of the coherence of the professional model of class-differential fertility decline
    7. Multiple fertility declines in Britain: occupational variation in completed fertility and nuptiality
    8. How was fertility controlled? The spacing versus stopping debate and the culture of abstinence
    Part IV. Conceptions and Refutations:
    9. A general approach to fertility change and the history of falling fertilities in England and Wales
    10. Social class, communities, gender and nationalism in the study of fertility change

  • Author

    Simon Szreter, University of Cambridge

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