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Rethinking East-Central Europe: family systems and co-residence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Volume 1: Contexts and analyses – Volume 2: Data quality assessments, documentation, and bibliography


Mikołaj Szołtysek

This book reconstructs fundamental aspects of family organization across historical Poland-Lithuania, one of the largest political entities in early modern Europe. Using a plethora of quantitative measurements and demographic microsimulation, the author captures and elucidates the complex patterns of leaving home and life-cycle service, marriage and household formation, along with domestic group structures and living arrangements among different subpopulations of Poland-Lithuania, highlighting a variety of ways in which these patterns were nested in their respective local and regional contexts. By showing that at the end of the 18 th century at least three distinct family systems existed in the Polish-Lithuanian territories, Szołtysek challenges a number of orthodoxies in the ‘master narratives’ on the European geography of family forms of F. Le Play, J. Hajnal, P. Laslett, and their followers. Volume two of the book contains an extensive bibliography along with a thorough archival documentation of the census-like microdata used in the book, and provides detailed information on their quality and further technicalities pertaining to data analysis.
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An intellectual undertaking of this sort would never have been possible without institutional, intellectual, and personal support. This book originates in my Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship project (FP6-2002-Mobility-5, Proposal No. 515065 – ‘Astride of Hajnal’s line: Central Europe and the geography of family forms, 17th–19th centuries’) carried out between 2006–2008 at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. As these early stages of my work are now recalled, Richard Wall’s continuous encouragement to write a monograph on Polish-Lithuanian family patterns remains unforgettable.

Most of the book was written at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock. Special thanks go to Joshua Goldstein, the director of the Institute until 2013, for his generous support and providing an excellent working environment. Accordingly, I am greatly indebted to Chris Hann, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropo­logy, without whose hospitality in Halle this endeavour would have never been completed.

My greatest debt is to my friend and colleague Siegfried Gruber who was my chief consultant on database construction and management. The most valuable features of the database used for this research stand to the credit of Siegfried who patiently turned my original rough directory into a modern vehicle for a multifarious analysis of co-residence.

I want to express my special gratitude to my sister Julia Szołtysek who from the beginning of this endeavor has assisted me with language editing and translations of parts of...

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