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Beyond the equation model of society - the postponement of motherhood in post-state socialism in an interdisciplinary life-course perspective

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Abstract:

The dramatic decline in fertility in European countries with a state-socialist past and the trend towards postponing childbearing are indicative of the acceleration of the process of European modernization in these countries. Research in this area is dominated by demography and other approaches attempting to “measure” social phenomena within an explanatory framework. Despite its diverse emphasis on materialist, idealist and institutionalist factors, the demographic approach can be criticized for neglecting the interdisciplinary challenge behind the phenomenon. Instead, these approaches operate on the basis of an “equation model of society” that essentially attempts gradually to enhance the illumination of the black box that “contains” the passage of young women to adulthood, leaving them with fewer children born at a later age. While acknowledging the contributions of this research, the article suggests considering the life-course perspective in its full potential as a starting point for an interdisciplinary triangulation of the issue. It argues that a certain life-cours eapproach could supplement the available accounts of causes and consequences with an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon as a “social fact”, studying it in terms of “cultures of postponement” of motherhood.

Keywords: culture; fertility decline; interdisciplinarity; life-course; motherhood; post-state socialism; postponement of childbearing; triangulation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13511610903075811

Affiliations: Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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