Population and Society - Humanities and Social Sciences - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Humanities. Cochin University of Science and Technology
yadiv13 October 2012

Population and Society - Humanities and Social Sciences - Lecture Notes, Study notes for Humanities. Cochin University of Science and Technology

PDF (111 KB)
6 pages
1000+Number of visits
This course proposes to discuss the relationship between social processes and demographic transition in India. main discussion of course is on introducing the tools and techniques of social demography, Indian data on dem...
Download points needed to download
this document
Download the document
Preview3 pages / 6
This is only a preview
3 shown on 6 pages
Download the document
This is only a preview
3 shown on 6 pages
Download the document
This is only a preview
3 shown on 6 pages
Download the document
This is only a preview
3 shown on 6 pages
Download the document

Module 1

Introduction: Population and Society

Lecture 1: Introduction

Slide 1


Social processes are closely linked with human population. Therefore, for students of society it is

important to study characteristics of population. According to the latest estimates of United Nations

Population Fund, the size of India’s population is 1,198.0 millions. Imagine if the size of population of

India were 120 million, i.e., one-tenth of the present population, what would be its impact on society.

Would we have the same level of poverty and unemployment? Would we have the same level of

conflicts and chaos? Would that affect the position of India in the international politics? Are there only

good consequences of lower population or there are some harmful consequences too? Remember that

today in India a city like Mumbai itself has more population than you are imagining for whole India. You

will learn that the relationship between population and society is not one way. Not only population

determines structure and processes of society but society also determines the population characteristics

and dynamics. Is it not true that industrialization and development have reduced family size in all the

Western countries? Is it not true that concern for children’s education leads to use of contraception; and

women’s employment improves their decision making power in the family? It is hoped that after

completing this course a student of sociology will be able to relate population trends and policies with

society and social change.

This course aims at understanding of various linkages between population and society at various

levels: national, regional, village, household and individual. An attempt has been made to present

material in a manner that a graduate student of sociology can grasp the subject without difficulty. There

is only one module that requires some familiarity with statistics and basic mathematics. This is Chapter 4

on models. All other chapters are devoted to substantive issues. Questions given at the end of each

module would help the students in self evaluation.

Slide 2



Population studies is a branch of social sciences. Social sciences include sociology, economics,

psychology, political science and anthropology. Not only sociologists but economists, psychologists,

political scientists, anthropologists, and social historians have also contributed to development of theory

of population. Table 1.1, given in a following slide, shows some illustrative questions of interest to

different social scientists working in the field of population studies.

Economists are interested in economic aspects of demographic phenomena. They may use cost-

benefit approach to reproductive decision making or migration. Psychologists focus on individual

differences. Political scientists explain everything in terms of power and forms of state. Anthropologists

have been traditionally interested in culture of preliterate societies though these days they also study

urban and industrial organizations and examine belief systems, symbolic communication, patterns of

interaction and behaviour, and values. Social historians examine historical roots of population changes

and rise and fall of death rate, migration and nuptiality (marriage). Sociologists claim that they study

population variables in terms of social structure.

It may be said that in the field of population research sociologists are playing an increasing role. The

reasons are:

• While other disciplines focus on one specific aspect of reality sociologists attempt to explain things

in a holistic perspective.

• Sociologists have the advantage of freely borrowing concepts and methodologies from all other

branches of social sciences.

• Sociologists are the first to venture into new areas as they are less constrained by disciplinary


• Sociologists who take whole society as the level of analysis are in a better position to explain

differences between different societies and cultures.

However, the entry of sociologists in the field of population is relatively new.


Slide 3

In the beginning population research was dominated by

on estimation of rates and ratios from incomplete data. With improved data and survey as the main

method of research sociologists are playing a more important role than others in confronting the

challenging issues of our times.


In population studies scholars study size and composition of population. They also study various

processes through which size and composition of population chan

marriages; reproduction or births;

(both within a country and between differen

stratification (primarily caused by

processes of population affect society and social institutions directly or through economic and

environmental factors.


The term size refers to the total number of people inhabiting an area.

classification of population according to characteristics like age, sex

characteristics of population such as

the aegis of population distribution.

statisticians and economists. The stress was

ge. The processes are: nuptiality or

mortality or deaths; migration of people from one place to another

t countries); and social mobility leading to changes in social

changes in education, work and occupation). Size, composition and

and marital status

urban-rural residence or geographical divis



Composition refers to

. Some specific

ions are studied under


Slide 4


Discipline Important questions

Sociology 1. Are there religious differentials in fertility in India? What are the

causes behind them?

2. How does social stratification affect health inequality and quality of


3. What role did the industrial revolution play in promoting rural to

urban migration?

Economics 1. What are the short term and long term effects of population growth

on productivity and national income

2. What are costs and benefits of children in different types of


3. Will the falling birth rate improve unemployment rate?

4. How does one assess the impact of population growth in urban or

rural areas?

Psychology 1. What are all the values of children?

2. What is the relationship between locus of control (i.e., attribution

of successes and failures to oneself or environment) and fertility


3. What are social representations of health and illness among the

tribal communities?

4. How does one measure stigma against HIV/AIDS?

Political scientists 1. How does empowerment of women help in reducing maternal

mortality ratio?

2. Is there a relationship between political structures and

demographic transition (i.e., changes in birth and death rates)?

Anthropologists 1. Do cultural norms affect decision making regarding place of


2. Did the kinship structure among primitive tribes affect their desire

to migrate?


Slide 5


Conventionally, population scientists make a difference between demography and population studies.

Demography deals with the quantitative study of size and processes of population; population studies

deals with complex and qualitative relationships between socio-economic environment and

population. In practice there is no separation between the two. In this course we will use them

interchangeably. Demographers make their models in the light of substantive theories developed by

sociologists and economists; and sociologists and economists employ demographic measures, data and

models to explain the various links between population and society.


Size, growth, composition and distribution of population are interrelated. In a territory of a given size

population cannot increase indefinitely. Therefore, as we will see later, size of population determines at

what rate the population would be growing. Composition of population also affects the rate of growth

of population. In turn, rate of growth affects the composition of population. Most of the rapidly growing

populations are younger than the declining populations or populations growing at a very slow pace. Rate

of growth also affects distribution directly and indirectly. One reason behind this is that all the regions

and groups in a country do not grow at the same rate: while some regions and groups may grow at a fast

pace others may grow only at a slow pace or even decline, leading to spatial and social class differences

in growth rate of population. In most countries, therefore, the governments are not only concerned

about overall growth rate of population they also take cognizance of and intervene in population growth

differentials. No wonder, in many countries, the social classes are themselves raising concerns about

social class differences in fertility, mortality and migration.


Slide 6


Population studies is in great demand today. Poston et al. (2007) say that there are three specific

demographic activities for which persons trained in population studies are employed:

• Demographers serve as advisors, witnesses, and technicians on matters of political apportionment

and redistricting.

• They are frequently called to participate in multidisciplinary teams given the responsibility of

developing a plan to halt the environmental damage.

• They are asked to provide the various types of forecasts in conjunction with community


In India, demography is taught in different university departments such as sociology, economics,

geography and statistics. Preventive and social medicine departments of medical colleges too have

demographers to teach demography and assist research students. Demographers, with their strong

training in methodology, are recruited by non-government organizations (NGOs) and research

organizations working in diverse areas: health, sexuality, gender issues and development. They are

consulted by civic bodies and governments for providing projections of urban and rural populations and

different types of services. Sociologists with training in demography can look for jobs in universities,

NGOs and research and consultancy organizations. Of late, engineers and environmentalists have

included demographic variables in studies of impact of development projects on people. Lastly, it is

notable that in plural societies, having presence of multiple ethnic and religious groups, political parties

cannot afford not to pay heed to population matters. Differences in growth rate of population have

been a both political and emotive issues in India where people’s groups have asked whether there are

religious differences in practice of birth control methods, what are the causes of this, and what are the

implications of this.


comments (0)
no comments were posted
be the one to write the first!
This is only a preview
3 shown on 6 pages
Download the document