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Parviz Khalatbari (2007)

Female Emancipation and the Process of Change in Generative Conduct*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 1-2/2007, p. 11-33, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

We have been observing a continual fall in fertility in European countries for more than 100 years. This phenomenon was repeatedly referred to as „the population problem” of Europe. But it is a process of historical logic. The Industrial Revolution which took place in Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries was a deep caesura in the history of humanity. It gradually and fundamentally changed the nature of our world. Also, the demographic consequences of the industrial revolution were revolutionary in the truest sense of the word. They overturned the traditional types of reproduction. Reproduction entered a transitional phase which is still not complete today. In the course of economic, societal and scientific change and development, the traditional and uncontrollable mortality regime gradually became obsolete from the end of the 18th Century onwards. Mortality became increasingly controllable. Thanks to the controllability of mortality, the continuation of the species can be guaranteed with little demographic effort for the first time in history. Traditional fertility-favouring reproductive behaviour, which for thousands of years compensated for high mortality and preserved the species, now became superfluous. It had to be replaced by a new reproductive behaviour which tends to restrict fertility. The main precondition for this radical demographic change was the comprehensive liberation of women from the economic, legal, social, religious and sexual chains which had suppressed and discriminated them for thousands of years and which had sentenced them to hard conjugal labour. There is evidently an inseparable connection between the process of female emancipation (in terms of both equal rights and of the assertion of female values in society) and the formation and development of modern reproductive behaviour which has tended to be neglected despite all the scientific progress which has been made in recent years.

* Original title: Die weibliche Emanzipation und der Prozess der Wandlung der generativen Verhaltensweise (full text in German only)

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