"Empty Cradles" and the Quiet Revolution: Demographic Discourse and Cultural Struggles of Gender, Race, and Class in Italy

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

This article examines the social context related to the current demographic situation in Italy and has three objectives: (1) to expose the strategies demographers use to frame the birthrate in Italy as a "problem" and to argue that this exercise of scientific authority has powerful and hegemonic consequences in terms of producing demographic knowledge that extends beyond the field of demography; (2) to suggest that this knowledge is integral to a politics of cultural struggle that portrays men and, in particular, women as irrational family-makers; and (3) to argue that this instance of demographic science contributes to an alarmism that enables an "elite" sort of racism toward immigrant others.

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