Macro-level changes and micro-level processes: family change in Rostock, 1819-1900

Mikolaj Szoltysek, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Siegfried Gruber, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Rembrandt D. Scholz, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Barbara Zuber-Goldstein, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This study is informed by competing perspectives on family behavior in periods of turbulent social change and intends to provide some fresh insights into the effect of macro-level changes on micro-level processes involving the family. In this pilot study we take our first step towards analyzing the impact of developing urban-industrial life on the family system in the northern German city of Rostock. A variety of quantitative approaches is employed to capture longterm changes in household structure and composition, household formation rules and patterns of leaving home in this historic Hanseatic community in two census years, 1819 and 1867. Overall we can observe rather stable patterns for both censuses, 1819 and 1867, with only small shifts from more “traditional” towards more “modern” patterns of the family. Interestingly, the persistence of the family pattern in Rostock rested primarily on the continuity of nuclear family-centred patterns of coresidence. Neither we detected a destruction of the traditional pattern of extended family household, nor we proved the progressive nuclearization of the family in Rostock between 1819 and 1867. In this research an attempt is going to be made to check validity of those early findings by including into analysis the complete dataset from the 1900 census of Rostock.

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Presented in Session 21: The renewal of urban historical demography