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Similarity in Difference

Similarity in Difference: Marriage in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

Christer Lundh
Satomi Kurosu
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 544
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  • Book Info
    Similarity in Difference
    Book Description:

    Since Malthus, an East--West dichotomy has been used to characterize marriage behavior in Asia and Europe. Marriages in Asia were said to be early and universal, in Europe late and non-universal. In Europe, marriages were supposed to be the result of individual choices but, in Asia, decided by families and communities. This book challenges this binary taxonomy of marriage patterns and family systems. Drawing on richer and more nuanced data, the authors compare the interpretations based on aggregate demographic patterns with studies of individual actions in local populations. Doing so, they are able to analyze simultaneously the influence on marriage decisions of individual demographic features, socioeconomic status and composition of the household, and local conditions, and the interactions of these variables. They find differences between East and West but also variation within regions and commonality across regions. The book studies local populations in Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and China. Rather than a simple comparison of aggregate marriage patterns, it examines marriage outcomes and determinants of local populations in different countries using similar data and methods. The authors first present the results of comparative analyses of first marriage and remarriage and then offer chapters each of which is devoted to the results from a specific country.Similarity in Differenceis the third in a prizewinning series on the demographic history of Eurasia, followingLife under Pressure(2004) andPrudence and Pressure(2009), both published by the MIT Press.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32583-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables, Figures, and Maps
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Series Foreword
    (pp. xvii-xxii)

    The study of human behavior at aggregate and individual levels defines the core of all social sciences and some of the humanities. Demography, the mathematical study of human populations, provides a tool kit to do so. Concerned largely with the development and application of quantitative methods for the analysis of data on human populations, demographers make grindstones for many humanistic and social scientific mills.

    As a discipline, demography has long been concerned largely with understanding and describing the processes and implications of the fertility and mortality transitions that together constitute the demographic transition, and the interrelationship of these processes with...

  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  7. I Introduction

    • 1 Challenging the East–West Binary
      (pp. 3-24)
      Christer Lundh and Satomi Kurosu

      “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” wrote Rudyard Kipling (“The Ballad of East and West”). Ever since Malthus the rhetoric of an East–West dichotomy has been used to describing the patterns and mechanisms of marriage in Asia and Europe. In Asia marriages were early and universal, while in Europe they were late and non-universal. In Europe, flexibility in the timing of marriages played an important role in keeping population in balance with economy, while in Asia early marriages and high fertility increased population pressure and made mortality checks necessary to reach population...

    • 2 Eurasian Marriage: Actors and Structures
      (pp. 25-46)
      Christer Lundh and Satomi Kurosu

      Marriage has been a basic institution in all known human societies. Its main function has been to secure reproduction, and its importance has been stressed in custom and law. Marriage is the tie that binds the couple together, secures the stability and well-being of the household, guarantees specific rights to the offspring, and maintains kin networks, thereby making the transmission of property and human and social capital possible. In pre-modern times marriage was a mode of life, constituting one phase in the typical life course of people in Europe and Asia. To the younger generation marriage represented a chance of...

    • 3 Nuptiality: Local Populations, Sources, and Models
      (pp. 47-86)
      Satomi Kurosu and Christer Lundh

      This comparative study of marriage follows our previous endeavors on mortality and fertility in the Eurasia Project. More so than mortality or fertility, however, marriage is a social construction and not a simple response to biology. How are we to compare the product of an intricate interaction of sociocultural, historical, and demographic processes of human agency, which varies in any given context across cultures, geographies, and time periods? In this chapter we delineate our approach to a comparison of this complex event. First, we introduce patterns of property (socioeconomic status) and power (household organization) differentials in our study populations which...

  8. II Comparative Demographies

    • 4 The Roads to Reproduction: Comparing Life-Course Trajectories in Preindustrial Eurasia
      (pp. 89-120)
      Martin Dribe, Matteo Manfredini and Michel Oris

      Marriage is, by definition, the product of human agency. It is a social construction in which individual decisions are shaped by household and wider socioeconomic contexts within the boundaries and constraints of social and cultural norms. This is the reason why marriage patterns differ markedly, for example, by geographical setting, gender, socioeconomic status, household structure, and religion. However, analytic frameworks of marriage patterns have mainly considered geography to be the most important element of differentiation, providing a simple synthesis of all the other aspects. For over two centuries, scholars have viewed marriage as a key element in the East–West...

    • 5 The Influence of Economic Factors on First Marriage in Historical Europe and Asia
      (pp. 121-168)
      Tommy Bengtsson

      This chapter examines the role of economic factors in marriage in seven locations in preindustrial Europe and Asia. In these settings the family, or the household, provided a major welfare function for its members. Since setting up a new household, or adding someone to an existing household, had economic consequences for all the household members, marriage was the outcome of a calculus choice. The economic incentives and constraints related to marriage differed, however, across locations due to differences in economic and social structures, often manifested in rules and customs related to marriage and inheritance. In predominantly agricultural societies, such as...

    • 6 Remarriage, Gender, and Rural Households: A Comparative Analysis of Widows and Widowers in Europe and Asia
      (pp. 169-208)
      Satomi Kurosu, Christer Lundh and Marco Breschi

      In the past, marriages were often disrupted by the untimely death of a spouse, and remarriage was common. Remarriage had far-reaching effects on several levels, not only on individual life courses, but also on reforming and reorganizing households as well as on reproductive patterns at the societal level. However, in historical demography, the study of remarriage is still underdeveloped, especially in comparison with the attention paid to first marriages. It is a missing variable in Hajnal’s framework and little has been undertaken in order to place the concept in a broader, comparative, demographic framework (Saito 2005: 174). This study is...

  9. III Local Histories

    • 7 Social Norms and Human Agency: Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Sweden
      (pp. 211-260)
      Martin Dribe and Christer Lundh

      Two issues are of particular interest for our understanding of preindustrial marriage patterns. The first is the relation between social norms, collective action, and individual choice. Marriage is a social construction, and in preindustrial times, social norms were carried by the Church, the law, the local population, and the family. The ideal life cycle contained a period of service followed by marriage between the ages of 25 and 30. How strong was the social norm that influenced the timing and incidence of marriage? To what extent was there room for individual choices that deviated from the ideal life course? How...

    • 8 Prudence as Obstinate Resistance to Pressure: Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Rural Eastern Belgium
      (pp. 261-294)
      Michel Oris, George Alter and Paul Servais

      The nineteenth century challenged the adaptive capacities of rural populations in eastern Belgium. Both economic and demographic changes upset the balance between population and economic resources, and families and communities actively used marriage and migration to counter Malthusian pressure. The growth of factory production caused the collapse of proto-industry, which was widespread in eastern Belgium, and the last pockets of subsistence farming were converted to commercial agriculture. At the same time the demographic trends pointed toward faster population growth. Mortality was decreasing, and fertility rose slightly after 1850 and did not begin to decrease until the last quarter of the...

    • 9 Between Constraints and Coercion: Marriage and Social Reproduction in Northern and Central Italy in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
      (pp. 295-348)
      Renzo Derosas, Marco Breschi, Alessio Fornasin, Matteo Manfredini and Cristina Munno

      In this chapter we review the main theories of household and marriage systems, highlighting their inability to account for the astonishing variety of family and marriage patterns that characterized modern Italy. We propose a new interpretative framework, in which social reproduction is given pride of place as the main factor shaping marital behavior and household formation in the past. We test our theory by analyzing six populations in northern and central Italy, characterized by different ecological, economic, and social conditions. We use an event-history analysis approach to model the timing of marriage in the populations under study. The results confirm...

    • 10 Economic and Household Factors of First Marriage in Two Northeastern Japanese Villages, 1716–1870
      (pp. 349-392)
      Noriko O. Tsuya and Satomi Kurosu

      This chapter examines the patterns of and factors associated with first marriage in two farming villages in northeastern Japan in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Using data drawn from their annual population registers, calledninbetsu-aratame-cho, we analyze the patterns and time trends of first marriage as well as their socioeconomic and household contexts. Marriage in preindustrial Japanese agrarian society was primarily a family and household enterprise, based on long-term planning and negotiations between the two parties involved. In the context of the normative predominance of the stem-family system in preindustrial northeastern Japan (Aruga 1943; Kurosu 2009; Naito 1973; Otake 1982;...

    • 11 Categorical Inequality and Gender Difference: Marriage and Remarriage in Northeast China, 1749–1913
      (pp. 393-436)
      Shuang Chen, Cameron Campbell and James Lee

      In this chapter we place marriage behavior in a broad social and historical context by examining the determinants of marriage and remarriage in rural northeast China from the middle of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth. To do so, we make use of two publicly released datasets consisting of household registers that cover some 700 villages distributed across four distinct regions within Liaoning province (CMGPD-LN) and 120 villages in Shuangcheng county in Heilongjiang province (CMGPD-SC).¹ In so doing, we not only explore how individuals’ material entitlements constrained their marriage behavior but also shed light on the social...

  10. IV Conclusion

    • 12 Similarities and Differences in Pre-modern Eurasian Marriage
      (pp. 439-460)
      Christer Lundh and Satomi Kurosu

      Since Malthus, demographers and anthropologists have pointed out distinctive differences between Europe and Asia in marriage patterns, household formation systems and family systems, and the role of marriage in the demographic regime. The main differences between Europe and Asia include late marriages vs. early marriages; nonuniversal marriage (high celibacy rates) vs. universal marriage; postnuptial formation of a separate household vs. inclusion into a parental one; individualism vs. collectivism; a rather independent relation of women and children vs. highly gendered and patriarchal authority. In a Malthusian perspective, marriage played a major role for population equilibrium in Europe, thereby contributing to a...

  11. References
    (pp. 461-498)
  12. Index
    (pp. 499-512)