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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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10. Domestic group structure and living arrangements


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10. Domestic group structure and living arrangements

‘[in Mozyr district in Belarus] The happiest and richest were supposedly those huts in which the whole family worked together on one patch of land until old age […]. Such siemieniste [multiplied] huts always enjoy wide respect and are believed to be superior to all other forms of living’ (Jeleńska 1891, 298)

10.1  Introduction

In pursuing this book’s general agenda we have been compelled to design our analysis in order to reflect some aspects of individual life trajectories, including leaving home, becoming a servant, entering a marriage, and acquiring household headship. The topics to be discussed on the following pages should be seen as emanating almost organically from that foregoing discussion. In many respects, the current chapter is the inevitable culmination of all of the preceding analyses. While it may seem obvious that critical life course milestones, such as leaving home, marriage, and household formation, are inextricably linked with residence patterns (seen either as the structure of households, or individual living arrangements), this connection also has a firm theoretical foundation. As people move from their family of orientation to their family of procreation, and finally to household headship, they emerge from their often long trajectories with some kind of residential identity, such as that of independent householder, successor to the family farm, relative in subordinated co-residence, or lodger in a domestic subsystem. At the same time, the differential patterning of these residential trajectories...

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