PROOFS AND REFUTATIONS: THE PAST AND TODAY IN HISTORICAL STUDIES ON TRANSFORMATION OF FERTILITY ATTITUDES
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The article presents discussions on transformation of fertility attitudes based on results of studies carried out in the recent decades. The demographic transition theory was accepted as both the well documented description of demographic change and powerful interpretations, which constituted its explanatory and predictive potentials in application to social processes. However, many micro-level and local studies on mechanisms of fertility attitudes change, carried out in the three decades, resulted in diversified views, in general contesting not only findings of the European Princeton Fertility Project by A.Coale and his group but also some of its assumptions. And basic questions related to fertility transition, seemed to be already answered, are asked again. For instance, arguments against the uniform European experience in a fertility decline are strongly voiced while opinions about a diversity in fertility decline patterns receive more support. To present main streams in discussions on fertility transition the author refers to A.MacIntyre's concept of stages in evolution of scientific traditions and T.S.Kuhn's definition of a paradigm. The well grounded overview of important studies in the field during recent 50 years shows different, incoherent explanations of fertility change which cannot be simply referred to accumulated findings due to rich empirical studies. That situation is named by the author as an epistemological crisis in historical research on fertility transition. And concerns about a new theory which would integrate these broad range of findings can be formulated. What seems to be needed is a deeper theoretical reflection instead of new empirical studies by use of more advanced methods.
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