Society and Family Strategy

Erie County, New York 1850-1920

By Mark J. Stern

Subjects: American History
Paperback : 9780887064968, 172 pages, July 1987
Hardcover : 9780887064951, 172 pages, July 1987

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Table of contents

List of Tables

List of Figures



1. Explaining the Decline in Fertility

2. Economic and Social Development of Buffalo, 1850-1920

3. Differential Fertility in Erie County: Occupation and Ethnicity

4. Schooling and Fertility in Erie County

5. Rural Fertility in Erie County

6. Conclusion: Fertility and Social History





Using one of the largest quantitative data bases ever compiled on a single representative community, Stern explains and substantiates the reasons for the decline of the fertility rate during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He integrates demographic and social history to determine the implications of this aspect of the modernization of America. Society and Family Strategy describes the impact of capitalism, and changing class and ethnic structure on family economy, life cycle, and ideology. The author evaluates recent studies by social historians on the family, social class, and ethnicity in light of the Erie County experience, examines theories of social and cultural change, and proposes a non-evolutionary model of their relationship.

Mark J. Stern is Associate Professor of Social Welfare and History at the University of Pennsylvania.


"This is an authoritative study, provocative and controversial in its methodology and theoretical argumentation, and certain to become a classic in its field. " — William R. Taylor, State University of New York at Stony Brook

"Stern's approach and his argument make Society and Family Strategy essential reading in one of the liveliest fields of social history—the study of class formation. "— Clyde Griffen, Vassar College