A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy

  • Publish Date: 2004-02-10
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Elizabeth L. Krause
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This book tells the story of one society's remarkable experience when Italians in the late 1990s attained the lowest birthrate per women of any nation in the world. This case study draws on two years of ethnographic fieldwork over a five year period, to examine the conflicts as well as the possibility that this trend in family-making has created for an otherwise family-centered culture. Krause's innovative project seeks to understand a pressing contemporary issue, and the 'story' she tells takes readers behind the scenes of demographic numbers to reveal what aggregate statistics cannot--a cultural 'politics of population' in which Italians struggle over the meanings of family and children in contemporary society. The reader will gain an in-depth understanding of why Italy's birthrate has fallen so low and what this means for Italians as individuals and Italy as a society and how reproduction has become politicized. The author finds answers in intensely personal dialogues with ordinary people ranging from sweater-makers to counts, and aging bachelors to doting mothers. Their life experiences reveal how a silent revolution against patriarchy reshapes social and sexual morality to create new imperatives for family making. The author hopes to prompt different and critical thinking about populations and the cultural struggles related to the politics of everyday life in modern society.