Festival of the poor: fertility decline & the ideology of class in Sicily, 1860-1980
University of Arizona Press, 1996 - Business & Economics - 322 pages
The historical decline of fertility in Europe has occupied a central place in social history and demography over the past quarter-century. Most scholars credit Europeans with modulating sexual behavior, through either abstinence or the practice of coitus interruptus, as a rational choice made in the interest of personal economic comfort; yet peasant and working classes have typically lagged behind in birth control and have given rise to the adage that "sexual embrace is the festival of the poor." Scholarly analyses of "lag" often reinforce this stigmatizing view. Now this subject is given a fresh look through a case study in Sicily, one of the last outposts of Western Europe's demographic transition. By examining population changes in a single community between 1860 and 1980, the authors offer an extended review and critique of existing models of fertility decline in Europe, proposing a new interpretation that emphasizes historical context and class relations. They show how the spread of capitalism in Sicily induced an unprecedented rate of population growth, with boom-and-bust cycles creating the class experiences in which "reputational networks" came to redefine family life; how Sicilians began to control their fertility in response to class-mediated ideas about gender relations and respectable family size; and how the town's gentry, artisan, and peasant classes adopted family planning methods at different times in response to different pressures. Jane and Peter Schneider's anthropologically oriented political-economy perspective challenges the position of Western Europe as a model for fertility decline on which every other case should converge, looking instead at the diversity ofcultural ideals and practices--such as those found in Sicily--that influence the spread and form of birth control. Combining anthropological, oral historical, and archival methods in new and insightful ways, the authors' synthesis of a particular case study with a broad historical and theoretical discussion will play a major role in the ongoing debates over the history of European fertility decline and point the way toward integrating the analysis of demographic upheaval with the study of class formation and ideology.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Can Everyone Belong?
two The Demography and Political Economy of Rapid
three Rapid Population Growth in Sicily 1868 to 1890
7 other sections not shown
Other editions - View all
abortion According agricultural argued Artigiani artisans babies birth control birth intervals birthrate bracciante bracciante women breast-feeding burgisi capital capitalist celibacy chapter child childbearing Cianciana civile cohorts coitus interruptus concept context contraception contrast couples cultural daughters decades demographic transition early economic emigration Euro-American Europe Europe's European family limitation fertility decline France French Gabaccia gentry groups harvest high fertility households husbands industrial infant Italian Italy kinship Knodel labor land landless landowners large families late marriage latifundia latifundist Lesthaeghe living Lorenzoni male Malthus marital married married couples McLaren ment migration milk miners mortality mothers nineteenth century number of children offspring Palermo parents pattern peasants percent political poor population growth practice pregnancy rational reform regime regions relations reproductive rural towns Schneider and Schneider sexual sharecroppers Sicilian Sicily Sicily's social socialist society tion Villamaura Vital Records wet nurses withdrawal wives woman World Wrigley