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Demography, Feminism, and the Science-Policy Nexus

Harriet B. Presser
Population and Development Review
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 295-331
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137547
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137547
Page Count: 37
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Demography, Feminism, and the Science-Policy Nexus
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Abstract

This article argues that whereas gender issues have become central in the population policy arena, they remain marginal to the demographic field, and that this marginality has harmful consequences for the development of demography as a science. This predicament has arisen because of ideological, not scientific, constraints on the field of demography--constraints that have a history in how the discipline was formed and financed and in how key demographic agendas become rationalized. The rise of modern feminism, with its commitment to greater gender equality and female empowerment, presents a challenge in this context; it has limited appeal to those who control key resources for demographic research. The article argues for the incorporation of a gender systems approach that directly addresses gender differences in power, autonomy, and well-being, at both the macro and micro levels, and for an expansion of data collection that will permit such analyses. By making gender central to the field, demography will become a more relevant science for understanding social inequality and population change.

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