Kinship, Family and Social Network:
The anthropological embedment of fertility change in Southern Europe

[Note 1]

Giuseppe A. Micheli

Date Received:11 April 2000
Date Published:19 December 2000

There is considerable overlap between Le Play's mid-eighteenth-century household model map and the regional TFR map of central-southern Europe in the 1980s. The author examines the overall structure of relationships involved in Le Play's typology and observes that both the stem-family and the unstable family area in the Southern Europe are marked by a small, close-knit network of strong ties, with kinship predominance. Vice versa, the social support hinges upon a network of kin in the stem-family area, upon an alliance among different kindred units in the unstable Mediterranean area. All this leads to formulating a hypothesis of a tri-partite model for Western European relationship models. How can we explain the relationship between family predominance as anthropological embedding and family collapse as demographic reaction? The author reconsiders this question in the light of Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory and Elder's 'principle of accentuation': different, regionally rooted, family and kinship patterns "react" in contact with an appropriate reagent, such as the macro-process of modernisation, generating different patterns of today's demographic behaviour.

Author's affiliation:
Giuseppe A. Micheli
Institute of Population and Geographical Studies; Catholic University - Milan

Table of Contents:
1.    A methodological premise
2.    Demographic practices are spatially embedded 'lore'
3.    Household patterns in historic Europe and the present demographic choices
4.    The co-ordinates of Le Play's household typology
5.    Kinship & strong ties: concentric circles round the family
6.    Familism and asabiyyah. Towards a tripartite typology of family models
7.    Conclusions. In search of symptom-formation factors
8.    Post Scriptum. Flowing back into the river-bed of the stem-family

Keywords: social networks, anthropological demography, fertility change, family patterns, Mediterranean Europe

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Word count: 6,723

A methodological premise

Kinship, Family and Social Network: The anthropological embedment of fertility change in Southern Europe
Giuseppe A. Micheli
© 2000 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ISSN 1435-9871