By Simon Szreter, Hania Sholkamy, A. Dharmalingam
All through its heritage as a social technological know-how, demography has been linked to an completely quantitative orientation for learning social difficulties. hence, demographers are inclined to examine inhabitants matters scientifically via units of fastened social different types which are divorced from dynamic relationships and native contexts and methods. This quantity questions those mounted different types in methods. First, it examines the old and political situations during which such different types had their provenance, and, moment, it reassesses their uncritical functions over area and time in a various variety of empirical case reports, encouraging all through a positive interdisciplinary discussion regarding anthropologists, demographers, historians, and sociologists.
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Extra resources for Categories and Contexts: Anthropological and Historical Studies in Critical Demography (International Studies in Demography)
If carried out properly this would, without doubt, ensure that demographers would become much more self-critically and reﬂexively aware of the intrinsically problematic and ‘violent’ nature of the categories that they use in their research. It would bring home to them at all times the fact that their work is an act of highly selective, artiﬁcial ordering and representation of a much more complex and ﬂuid social world of negotiated meanings and motives. It would school them to appreciate that the categories for classifying evidence, which may seem only ‘natural’ or reasonable within their own ‘scientiﬁc’ community's terms of discourse, in fact constitute an act of intervention, not one of mere impartial and objective ‘scientiﬁc’ description.
Quite to the contrary, it was valued by government for the insights it could offer into the idiosyncratic, the local, the exotic, the different. Going along with this special licence to produce a category of non-standard, non-universal knowledge, went the legitimacy of very different methods of observation and modes of relating to its human subjects. Demographers have coded, classiﬁed, and analysed data collected by others on individuals and groups 18 SIMON SZRETER, HANIA SHOLKAMY, AND A. DHARMALINGAM they may well have no acquaintance with at all.
A. Goldhammer). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; ﬁrst published in French 1982. Bott, E. (1957). Family and Social Network: Roles, Norms and External Relationships in Ordinary Urban Families (2nd edn. 1971). London: Tavistock. Bowker, G. C. and Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting Things Out. Classiﬁcation and its Consequences. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. Caldwell, J. , and Caldwell, P. (1987). ‘Anthropology and demography: the mutual reinforcement of speculation and research’, Current Anthropology, 28: 25–34.