Understanding low fertility in Athens and London: a comparative anthropological study

Katerina Georgiadis, University College London

Below-replacement fertility in Greece and the United Kingdom has been achieved through very different demographic pathways. Consistent with the view that the socio-cultural context of a population is critical to appreciating these differences, the proposed paper presents the findings of a comparative anthropological study of reproductive ‘decision-making’ amongst middle-class Athenians and Londoners in which the notion of ‘personhood’ and concepts essential to its constitution, such as gender, sexuality and the body, take centre stage. We argue that ‘judgments’ and ‘choices’ related to having children defy comprehension unless investigated together with these key organising principles of thought and human behaviour and we observe that variations in definitions of the category of ‘person’ in each city account for fertility variations between them. Methods emblematic of social anthropology, including participant-observation, in-depth interviews and the analysis of media representations of childbearing and family-formation are used to make this essentially an exercise in anthropological demography.

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Presented in Session 10: Anthropological demography