The Survey under Unusual Conditions: The Jamaica Human Fertility Investigation

By Kurt W. Back; J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

Foreword*

The research project represented in part by this monograph was supported by the Conservation Foundation, the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund of the British Colonial Office, the Nuffield Foundation, and the Population Council. We are indebted to these organizations for their assistance. Donald O. Mills, Research Manager of the project, was a full collaborator in the field work and assumed acting directorship at several strategic phases of the field operations. Our debt to him is great. Finally, we wish to express our gratitude to the dramatis personae of this report, the interviewers. Ably led by Miss Thelma Thomas, they suffered the rigors of the field work only to be subjected to our interminable tests. Our deepest thanks.


Part I
Field Work and Field Workers

Introduction

A. Background of the Project

The following monograph is an outgrowth of the Jamaica Family Life Project. The project was designed to investigate those aspects of family structure which had relevance for human fertility, and to apply such knowledge to a pilot experiment in social change with respect to family planning. Following a design similar to one previously used in Puerto Rico,1 the research concentrated on lower-class subjects and involved a three-stage program. First, an exploratory stage involving depth interviews with a sample of about a hundred families; second, a survey utilizing structured type questionnaires with a representative sample of the population's mated, lower- class women; and third, an educational experiment. Stage I was supported by the Conservation Foundation, Stage II by the Colonial Development and Welfare Fund of the British Colonial Office, and Stages II and III by the Nuffield Foundation, the Population Council, and the Conservation Foundation.

The project was undertaken to answer a number of questions: 1) What are the attitudes toward family size and fertility of lower-class Jamaican women? 2) What means of family limitations are known and used, and what is the attitude toward these means? 3) What patterns of mating are characteristic of this class? 4) To what extent can modern educational techniques affect attitudes and behavior with respect to fertility control? Also of crucial interest is the interrelationship of the variables contained in the above questions. E.g., what relation is there between knowledge, attitude, and use of birth control? Does marital status or the pattern of marital relationships affect attitudes and behavior with respect to fertility and fertility control? What types of families respond most to various educational techniques, etc.?

While the field study was carried out in Jamaica, the research questions are relevant for other areas of the world and particularly for underdeveloped countries experiencing rapid population growth. If that is the case, then the methods reported here should also be useful for other field studies of the relationship between family structure and human fertility. But what is perhaps more important, many of the problems we encountered must be faced by any survey researcher working in an under- developed area, and it is hoped that our efforts to solve such problems may make a contribution to general survey methodology. This is the major justification for a separate monograph devoted to methodological aspects.

Substantive findings of this research can be found

____________________
*
Dr. Back is in the Departments of Sociology and Psychiatry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Stycos is in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
1
See J. M. Stycos, Family and Fertility in Puerto Rico, Columbia University Press, New York, 1955 and R. Hill, J. M. Stycos, and K. W. Back, The Family and Population Control, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1959.

-3-

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