Contextualizing Categories: Towards A Critical Reflexive Demography

Simon Szreter, Hania Sholkamy and A. Dharmalingam

in Categories and Contexts

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270576
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600883 | DOI:

Series: International Studies in Demography

Contextualizing Categories: Towards A Critical Reflexive Demography

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  • History of Economic Thought


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Problematizes the relationship between demographers, the content of their science and the contexts in which this knowledge is consumed. Demography as a social science has been historically shaped by the needs of its community of users. The hunger for population knowledge has been a hunger for measurement. Demography is a science that has provided policy with both its ends and its priorities, with its targets and tools. Such pragmatism has not been without cost. Dwelling on measurement and quantification has left less space for the contemplation of what it is that demographers measure.

The authors point to existing trends in the social sciences, which take issue with the vocabulary of demographic measurement and challenge the facility with which concepts and categories are defined and used. Provides a rationale for the volume in terms of the needs of demography as a changing social science rather than the demands that persist for demographic knowledge. Considers the interdisciplinarity and the dialogue that is a current feature of critical demography and carefully reviews the contributions of history and anthropology. Both history and anthropology provide demography with the potential for critical reflection and innovation. The philosophical and epistemological heritage, tools, methods, and audiences of both disciplines have critiqued, enriched, and challenged population studies in ways that are considered and documented in this introduction. Reviews the state of the art suggested by this nexus of disciplines, methods, and methodologies to place the chapters included in the whole volume within a theoretical and innovative framework.

Keywords: anthropology; demographic knowledge; demography; history; interdisciplinarity; measurement/social categories of; measurement/units of; policy; population studies; quantification; science

Chapter.  15550 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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