Balkan Family Structure and the European Pattern

Demographic Developments in Ottoman Bulgaria
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Publication date: 
236 pages

This study, which is an updated, extended, and revised version of the out-of-print 1993 edition, reassesses the traditional stereotype of the place of the Balkans in the model of the European family in the nineteenth century on the basis of new source material and by synthesizing existing research.
The work first analyzes family structure and demographic variables as they appear in population registers and other sources, and the impact of these findings on theoretical syntheses of the European family pattern. On most features, such as population structure, marriage and nuptiality, birth and fertility, death and mortality rates, family and household size and structure, as well as inheritance patterns, the Balkans show an enormous deal of internal variety. This variability is put in a comparative European context by matching the quantifiable results with comparable figures and patterns in other parts of Europe.
The second section of the book is a contribution to the long-standing debate over the zadruga, the complex, collective, joint or extended family in the Balkans. Finally, the book considers ideology and mythology and the ways it has adversely affected scholarship on the family, and broadly on population history.

Preface to the second edition;


  1. Introduction: Rethinking the Unknown;

II. Population Structure;

  1. Age Structure;
  2. Sex Structure;

III. Marriage and Nuptiality;

  1. The Marriage Ritual and Seasonal Patterns of Marriage;
  2. Age at Marriage;
  3. Remarriage, Cross-Kin Marriages and Other Characteristics;

IV. Birth and Fertility;

  1. Births, Baptisms and Their Registration;
  2. Measurements of Fertility;
  3. Twins in a Closed Population;

V. Death and Mortality;

  1. Gender and Age Specific Mortality;
  2. Seasonal Patterns of Mortality and Causes of Death;

VI. Family and Household Size and Structure;

  1. Family and Household Structure;
  2. Family and Household Size;
  3. Inheritance Patterns;

VII. The Problem of the South Slav Zadruga;

  1. Distribution and Development of the zadruga in the Balkans;
  2. An Alternative Explanation;

VIII. Conclusion: A Hypothesis of Converging Theories;

  1. A Summary of Conclusions;

Appendices; Notes; References and Bibliography; Index

"An important contribution to major discussions in the area of historical demography. Its basic criticism of structural and historical generalizations fits well into ongoing research efforts to question their theoretical and empirical foundations. Its skepticism of using historical concepts of family history to strengthen 'the myth of the individualistic European Sonderweg' is highly welcome. This book suggests that currents surveys in Western-language historiographies should be checked carefully for stereotypes about the social and economic history of Southern, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe."