Understanding low fertility in Athens and London: a comparative ethnographic study

Katerina Georgiadis, University College London

The pan-European decline in birth rates and its corollary, below replacement fertility, give the impression that there are uniform driving forces at play. Europe, however, is not a homogeneous cultural entity. Despite shared history, open borders, and relentless efforts to achieve political and economic unity, Europe remains divided and heterogeneous. There is now ample evidence to show that comparable fertility rates are a product of widely disparate traditions and modes of conduct. In light of these findings and in a bid to draw on the accomplishments of anthropological demography, this paper presents results from two ethnographic studies exploring female middle-class attitudes towards having children and approaches to family formation in Athens and London. It reveals a series of startling differences between Athenians and Londoners, which amount to two distinctive middle-class ‘cultures of fertility’. Comprising each, are unique ideas about motherhood and mothering, selfhood and personhood as well as gender identities.

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Presented in Poster Session 1