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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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3. Socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural propensities and their regional variants


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3.  Socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural propensities and their regional variants

Co-residence patterns, like many other demographic phenomena, can be influenced by economic, institutional, environmental, and cultural factors (Winch 1977, ch. 6; Rudolph 1992). The scope and content of modern censuses normally allow us to measure the relative strength of the latter’s associations with family system characteristics, as many covariates can easily be derived from information contained in the data themselves. The introduction of questions about language, ethnicity, literacy, and confession into modern census schedules has enormously broadened the number of variables which could be used to predict or explain particular demographic and family circumstances (Kertzer and Arel 2002). In many areas of Europe in the 19th century, national statistical offices produced a deluge of data, including extraordinarily detailed small area demographic, social, and economic statistical publications which allowed researchers to link macro- and microdata for the multi-level analysis of population processes and patterns (e.g., Woods and Hinde 1985; see also Szołtysek et al. 2014).

In our case, however, we were forced to cope with severe source material limitations. The information provided by the assembled listings does not, as a general rule, go beyond the basic demographic characteristics and relationship pointers of individuals, which decisively limits possibilities for measuring the associations between individual residential situation and other factors, be it occupational status, landownership or, most crucially, the type of legal and economic bonds to the landowning elite. The lack of meaningful country-wide...

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