Interrogating the Fertility Decline in Europe: Politics, Practices, and Representations of Changing Gender Orders
International Workshop of the Chair of Sociology/Social Inequality and Gender with the Marie Jahoda Visiting Professor Program in International Gender Studies
Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany), 18-20 January 2017
Both social sciences and demographic research pay close attention to the phenomenon of the fertility decline, which followed the post-World War II baby boom since the mid-1960s in most of the so-called ‘industrialised’ countries. In the Western world, the late 1960s were not only the times when the student movements, the second wave of the women’s movement as well as gay and lesbian movements arose and challenged the bourgeois family model, calling for more democracy in politics and everyday life. In the 1960s, women’s participation in the labour market and in higher education also started to grow, the welfare state expanded and materialist values were added or replaced by post- materialist values. Furthermore, new contraceptives enabled people to separate sexuality from reproduction and sexuality itself was liberated. Society and demography changed considerably, influencing various lifestyles with or without children, hetero- and/or homosexuality and fertility. Global changes such as the breakdown of socialism in Eastern Europe with the Fall of the Berlin Wall and German Reunification strengthened the fertility decline in former socialist societies. However, low fertility is not only considered a ‘problem’ in post-socialist states but also in Southern Europe and in Germany. In contrast, Nordic countries and France for example are more or less successful in keeping their total fertility rates proportionally high.
Even though all these developments are allegedly gendered and have implications for gender relations, little explicit attention is paid to the links between changing gender orders and practices of human reproduction, particularly under conditions of increasing individualisation and globalisation in the so-called ‘late modernity’. The international and interdisciplinary workshop aims at analysing the causes and consequences of the fertility decline in politics, social practices and cultural representations from a critical perspective which is informed by gender and intersectionality. Special attention is paid to East-West- comparisons since the 1960s.
The full call for papers, including relevant themes and submission process is attached below. Submissions close September 23rd, 2016.
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