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Population in the Human SciencesConcepts, Models, Evidence$
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Philip Kreager, Bruce Winney, Stanley Ulijaszek, and Cristian Capelli

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199688203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688203.001.0001

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Populations Are Composed One Event at a Time

Populations Are Composed One Event at a Time

Chapter:
(p.238) Chapter 8 Populations Are Composed One Event at a Time
Source:
Population in the Human Sciences
Author(s):

Jennifer A. Johnson-Hanks

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688203.003.0009

This chapter uses ethnographic data to present a framework for considering how subpopulations are built up in society, and the implications of such processes. Population units are social products not primarily as objects of cultural discourse, but rather as built up differentially by individual agents selecting themselves into or out of subpopulations through specific events in socially structured ways. Differences in vital rates therefore arise through the ways subpopulations are put together, and compositional demography may be grounded in mainstream sociological theory. In contrast, demographic practice usually handles this topic in terms of ‘selectivity’—as a data problem to be controlled for. But controlling for this kind of selection eliminates many key processes of demographic interest. If young African women seek education in order to lead ‘modern’ reproductive lives, then trying to identify exogenous effects of education by controlling for aspirations leads us astray. In such cases, selection is the story.

Keywords:   compositional demography, anthropology, social theory, vital conjunctures, fertility, education, Africa

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