The Political Economy of Fertility in the British West Indies 1891-1921

By D. A. V. Brown | Go to book overview

Chapter One

Theoretical Issues and
Socioeconomic Context

The Conceptual Framework

This study is based on the premise that demographic phenomena are an integral part of the wider socioeconomic processes that constitute society. As obvious as this may seem, it has not inspired a wealth of efforts within mainstream demography for the study of the linkages between society and demography. This fact is all the more noteworthy when it is considered that as an intellectual tradition, demography has within it well-developed quantitative as well as theoretical traditions [Willigan and Lynch 1982]. This study looks at the fertility patterns which obtained in the anglophone Caribbean in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It attempts to point the way towards the development of a framework for the analysis of societal-demographic interrelationships through the integration of demographic techniques and the perspectives and subject matter of mainstream social science.

Formal demographic analysis has as its focus the interaction of the variables of fertility, mortality and migration, and the attendant changes in the age and sex structure of the population within which they occur. It treats these processes as constituting an almost closed system and in this way is able to make conjectures about their incidence and character under whatever conditions the analyst chooses to assume. This insulation of demographic phenomena from the social processes with which they are

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