Counting Populations, Understanding Societies: Towards a by Véronique Petit

By Véronique Petit

The center goal of this e-book is to figure out how anthropology and demography can be utilized in conjunction within the box of inhabitants and improvement.

The obstacles of demography are usually not as in actual fact outlined or as solid as one may well imagine, specially in view of the stress among a proper demography headquartered at the ‘core of tactics and references’ and a extra open type of demography, mostly often called inhabitants Studies.

Many rapprochements, neglected possibilities and remoted makes an attempt marked the disciplinary background of anthropology and demography, either disciplines being based on targeted and hugely differentiated traditions and practices. furthermore, the position and where assigned to epistemology fluctuate considerably in ethnology and demography. but, anthropology and demography offer complementary versions and study tools and this ebook exhibits that neither self-discipline can come up with the money for to miss their respective contributions.

Based on study carried out in West Africa over greater than 20 years, it's a protection of box demography that makes case for a continuum starting from the preliminary notion of fieldwork and study to its potent implementation and to information research. alterations in behaviors in terms of fertility, poverty or migration can't be interpreted with out invoking the cultural issue at a few degree. Representations of their collective and person dimensions additionally healthy into the prolonged explanatory area of demography.

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However, unlike physics or biology, demography cannot resort to experimental methods in order to verify its models. Is the mere fact of using probability and statistical techniques enough to classify demography as an exact science? This is surely to forget that the stages that precede the analytical stage may be heavily imbued with normativity. It is also to operate under the illusion of being in the enviable position of producing laws by examining statistical regularities and correlations and by emphasising the search for mechanical causal relationships, while forgetting that in the mideighteenth century, David Hume had already demonstrated that regularity and simultaneity are not a sufficient basis for establishing a scientific law.

According to Guillard, demography is ‘the natural and social history of the human species. In providing information about the current characteristics of the population of a given territory, demography continues the great tradition of political arithmetic and illumination for the purposes of informing public policies. However, to reduce the discipline to the business of counting men would be to give an abstract and restrictive impression of demography. Demography is based on the most concrete and fundamental datum of all: the life and death of men.

In providing information about the current characteristics of the population of a given territory, demography continues the great tradition of political arithmetic and illumination for the purposes of informing public policies. However, to reduce the discipline to the business of counting men would be to give an abstract and restrictive impression of demography. Demography is based on the most concrete and fundamental datum of all: the life and death of men. Its purpose is to examine the most significant events of daily life: births, weddings, divorces, deaths, and migrations’ (Guillard quoted by Chesnais 1990: 3–4).

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