The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change in Europe (Studies in European Sociology)
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Low fertility in Europe has given rise to the notion of a ‘fertility crisis’. This book shifts the attention from fertility decline to why people do have children, asking what children mean to them. It investigates what role children play in how young adults plan their lives, and why and how young adults make the choices they do.
The book aims to expand our comprehension of the complex structures and cultures that influence reproductive choice, and explores three key aspects of fertility choices:
- the processes towards having (or not having) children, and how they are underpinned by negotiations and ambivalences
- how family policies, labour markets and personal relations interact in young adults’ fertility choices
- social differentiation in fertility choice: how fertility rationales and reasoning may differ among women and men, and across social classes
Based on empirical studies from six nations – France, Scandinavia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Italy (representing the high and low end of European variation in fertility rates) – the book shows how different economic, political and cultural contexts interact in young adults' fertility rationales. It will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, anthropology, demography and gender studies.
living, while more highly educated women tend to invest in a career sometimes to the detriment of childbearing (Garner et al. 2006). Women with less educational capital remain attached to being primarily mothers, while middle- and upper-class women increasingly reject the idea of being defined only by ‘living for others’ (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 2002: 54). Although the impact of children on women’s labour force participation has markedly declined in recent decades, there is still a gap between
pattern is the most common one in France. Most women want to return quickly to work after childbirth, which is why access to childcare facilities appears to be a major concern in the narratives. Indeed, most mothers return to work after maternity leave, that is, about three months after childbirth, and most of them do not breastfeed their newborn children or ceased breastfeeding when they returned to work. Some take up parental leave, but as Karin (29 years old, cohabiting, Assistant Manager, no
promotion de l’enfance en France’, Histoire et Sociétés 15: 16–29. Rollet, C. (2001) ‘Ligue contre la mortalité infantile et Alliance pour l’accroissement de la population française: deux familles de pensée et d’actions?’, Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie de Genève: 135–150. Rollet-Echallier, C. (1990) La Politique à L’égard de la Petite Enfance sous la IIIè République. Paris: PUF/INED 127. Rosental, P.-A. (2003) L’intelligence Démographique: Science et Politiques des Populations en France
knowledge societies and therefore to ‘late modernity’ have a different face in these countries. 3 The following sub-chapters do not differentiate between East and West Germany because, since reunification, both have developed towards flexibilization despite having emerged from very different backgrounds (Jurczyk et al. 2009: 31–58). 4 The rising numbers of separations and divorces lead to another type of family-related multi-locality. Current research looks at both types and their coming
This gave us access 90 M. N. Ravn and M. Lie to their underlying sets of arguments, which revealed some diversity in the meaning of the concept. We have extracted some different, although interlinked, lines of argumentation from these answers, the most prevalent of which could be condensed as: the best for the child; the best for the couple as a unit; the best for the individual person; and the best for the balance or fairness of the parental project. We will elaborate on these arguments in