The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change in Europe: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change in Europe

1st Edition

Edited by Anne Lise Ellingsaeter, An-Magritt Jensen, Merete Lie


188 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2013-02-25
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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 interactin young adults' fertility rationales. It will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, anthropology, demography and gender studies.

Table of Contents

1. The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change by Anne Lise Ellingsæter, An-Magritt Jensen and Merete Lie 2. The Politics of Parenting: The Meaning of Children, the Meaning of Work by Marie-Thérèse Letablier 3. Economic Risk, Fertility and the Welfare State: Understanding Individual Rationales by Anne Lise Ellingsæter and Eirin Pedersen 4. Flexible Work: Implications for the Social Meaning of Children by Karin Jurczyk 5. Patterns of Partnership and Parenthood: Experiences, Approaches and Readiness Towards Commitment and Creating a Family by Mai Heide Ottosen and Sofie Skovdal Mouritzen 6. The Cultural Ideal of the Joint Decision: Illuminating Values of Individuality and Relationality of the Child Choice by Malin Noem Ravn and Merete Lie 7. The Non-Modern Child? Ambivalence about Parenthood among Young Adults by Disa Bergnéhr and Eva Bernhardt 8. Rising Fertility, Fewer Fathers: Crossroads of Networks, Gender and Class by An-Magritt Jensen 9. Changing Fertility Behavior across Two Generations: The Role of Gender and Class by Trude Lappegård, Turid Noack and Marit Rønsen 10. From Mothers to Daughters: Intergenerational Transmission of Fertility Norms by Laura Bernardi 11. The Social Meaning of Children Embedded in Institutions and Personal Relations by Anne Lise Ellingsæter, An-Magritt Jensen and Merete Lie

About the Editors

Anne Lise Ellingsæter is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oslo.

An-Magritt Jensen is Professor of Sociology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Merete Lie is Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

About the Series

Studies in European Sociology

Europe is currently undergoing massive change. In the former Eastern Europe, societies are adapting to post-communist regimes and economies and facing the implications of war in the Balkans. In the west the increased integration of the European Union impacts on every aspect of legal, economic and political life. The whole of Europe is going through major transformations in terms of gender, race and class. This series published by Routledge with the European Sociological Association, provides a forum for sociological responses to these developments.    

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies