This afternoon I will be on an invited panel at the Population Association of American conference organized by Lingxin Hao and including Frances Goldscheider, Wendy Manning, and Andrew Cherlin: “Family Demography: Where is it now? Where Should It be Going?”
I titled my remarks: “What’s the story: Family demography at the end of progress.” The gist of it is to resist the inclination to see a normal baseline running underneath a series of crisis and distractions: Pandemics, wars, climate change, the crisis in democracy, divergence identities — and the tendency to implicitly or explicitly adopt progressivist narratives, to replace “the” demographic transition with something else (the “second” demographic transition or otherwise).
So, don’t wait for or assume things will return to normal. Do family demography in light of disasters, inequalities, identities, and policies as messy, incoherent, unpredictable features of society – not bugs in the ointment of modern progress. Something like that.