Op de snijtafel van de genderhistoricus. Androcentrisme in de historische demografie


  • Angélique Janssens Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen




gender, historische demografie


This article presents a discussion and analysis of the way in which the concept of gender is applied as an analytical category in the field of historical demography. Gender as an analytical category was introduced in the 1980s to reveal the social and cultural constructions of gender and power, and the way in which these gender constructions worked to marginalise women as a social group as well as making them invisible in mainstream history writing. After so many years the question arises to what extent gender mainstreaming has taken place in the practice of history writing and whether it has successfully pushed out former androcentric historical practices. I ask this question relating to the field of historical demography, and I do this by tracing gendered perspectives in all articles published in The History of the Family. An International Quarterly in all issues in five volumes: 2008, 2020, 2012, 2014 and 2016. All empirical articles in these issues were examined on whether and how the concept of gender was used. More androcentric analytical practices would lead to perspectives in which women would be regarded merely as bodies, appearing in variables such as ‘age at marriage’, rather than as agents of change or social actors. These latter roles would be reserved for men. Results show that in a majority of the publications authors do make use of the concept of gender. However, a content analysis shows that many of these articles use gender as an equivalent for sex, a practice which takes us back to the old biological perspectives on the differences between men and women. Still, the content analysis also shows that a considerable number of studies do make use of gender as an analytical category, thereby greatly enhancing the richness and complexity of approaches in the field. These studies shows that using gender as an analytical category in historical demography reduces one-dimensional functionalist and economistic perspectives on important demographic phenomena in the past.


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Author Biography

Angélique Janssens, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Angélique Janssens is bijzonder hoogleraar Historische Demografie, met speciale aandacht voor Gender en Arbeid aan de Universiteit van Maastricht, en als UD verbonden aan de Radboud Group for Historical Demography and Family History, van de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. Zij is co-editor in chief van The History of the Family. An International Quarterly. Zij publiceerde in gerenommeerde tijdschriften over vrouwenarbeid, huwelijk en fertiliteit in het verleden, alsmede doodsoorzaken, sterfte en langlevendheid. Daarnaast publiceerde zij Labouring Lives. Women, work and the demographic transition in the Netherlands, 1880-1960 (Peter Lang, 2014) en Family and social change. The household as a process in an industrializing community (Cambridge University Press, 1993, reprint 2002). Zij is PI van het NWO-project Lifting the burden of disease. The modernisation of health in the Netherlands, Amsterdam 1854-1926, en van het NWO-project Constructing SHiP: towards a comparative history of health and disease in European port cities, 1850-1950. Zij is tevens wetenschappelijk directeur van het N.W. Posthumus Instituut.




How to Cite

Janssens, A. (2020). Op de snijtafel van de genderhistoricus. Androcentrisme in de historische demografie. TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 17(1), 53–76. https://doi.org/10.18352/tseg.1125