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The genealogy of Eastern European difference: an insider’s view

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  • Mikolaj Szoltysek

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    The view of Eastern Europe as a locus of complex family organisation and familistic societal values has reached the status of general dogma in Western social sciences and demography. By offering an overview of almost entirely unknown scholarly achievements of Eastern Europeanists, this essay represents an attempt to persuade scholars to accept less stereotypical images of families from outside ‘Western Europe’. Well into the late 1990s, Eastern European literature on family forms remained screened off from the main current of European thought. Thus, not surprisingly, tracing the lineage of work from east of the ostensible Hajnal Line reveals the sharp differences between the findings of Eastern European researchers and the dominant assumptions of Western science. These marginalised discourses need to be integrated into mainstream research and discussion, so that scholars can better understand marriage, family, household and community patterns in Europe and elsewhere. The diversity of family forms and the rhythms of their development in historical Eastern Europe revealed in this literature also provide us with an excellent opportunity to free ourselves from a simplistic view of the continent’s familial history, and particularly from the one implied by the notion of a ‘dividing line’.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2011-014.

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    Length: 50 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2011-014

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    Keywords: family forms; historical demography; household composition; marriage;

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    1. Tomas Sobotka, 2008. "Overview Chapter 6: The diverse faces of the Second Demographic Transition in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(8), pages 171-224, July.
    2. Millward, Robert, 1982. "An Economic Analysis of the Organization of Serfdom in Eastern Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 513-548, September.
    3. 上垣, 彰, 2002. "中東欧における年金改革の現状 : Katharina Muller, The Political Economy of Pension Reform in Central-Eastern Europe, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1999, xiv, 222p の紹介と�," Discussion Paper 49, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    4. Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten Van Zanden, 2010. "Girl power: the European marriage pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 63(1), pages 1-33, 02.
    5. Mikolaj Szoltysek & Barbara Zuber Goldstein, 2009. "Historical family systems and the great European divide: the invention of the Slavic East," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-041, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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