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Population and Social Change (SO326)


Richard Lampard










Convenor: Dr Richard Lampard


Room: 3.29A

Module Code: SO326


Population and Social Change focuses (from a sociological perspective!) upon a range of topics that are of particular interest to both sociologists and demographers. Most of the module’s content is devoted to issues relating to the major ‘life-events’ (i.e. births, marriages and deaths), and it places a particular emphasis on marriage (or, to be more precise, the formation and dissolution of couple relationships) and families.

Such key ‘life-events’ can be seen to be universally important features of people’s life-histories. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the material covered by this module can be linked in a variety of ways to other substantive areas that students may have studied (or be studying currently), such as work and employment, gender, health, social welfare and social policy, migration, development, social history, etc.

While the primary focus is upon contemporary Britain, literature relating to a wider range of advanced industrial societies is also considered. In addition, a few weeks of the first term are devoted to British historical demography, and an examination of recent demographic changes and population policies in ‘less-developed’ countries is included in the second term. Also covered are: fertility (including teenage pregnancy), the formation of marital and cohabiting relationships, various other marriage-related topics (including separation and divorce), the formerly married and lone parents, stepfamilies, internal migration, and a mortality-related topic.

A primary aim of the module is to develop an understanding of the origins, nature and consequences of socio-demographic change. Since the causes of demographic change are often difficult to pin down, and authors’ explanations frequently emphasise either economic factors or cultural factors, this module attempts to achieve a balanced consideration of the roles of cultural, economic and other factors. A subsidiary aim of the module is to acquaint students with various data sources, methods and methodological issues of relevance to the topics covered. Early in the module standard demographic techniques (such as rates, standardisation and life-tables) are briefly introduced, in part to facilitate the interpretation of published material.

Typically, the published empirical research on a given module topic includes both qualitative and quantitative studies. In addition, the nature of the module means that students encounter both recent journal articles and also up-to-date official statistics. Thus, in addition to its substantive focus, the module acts as a context in which students can increase their familiarity with quantitative (and qualitative) social research. However, this module isn’t a statistics module (in case you were worrying!)


One 1 hour lecture per week plus one 1 hour seminar per week.


Two class essays (or three, if preferred)

Illustrative material

COLEMAN, D. 2000. ‘Population and Family’. In HALSEY, A.H. and WEBB, J. (eds) 2000. Twentieth-Century British Social Trends (3rd edition). Basingstoke: Macmillan. [pp27-93.] {Available online: see go/lib-course-extracts}.

TRANTER, N. 1996. British Population in the Twentieth Century. Basingstoke: Macmillan

LEWIS, J. 2001. The End of Marriage? Individualism and Intimate Relations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

REYNOLDS, J., WETHERELL, M., and TAYLOR, S. 2007. ‘Choice and chance: negotiating agency in narratives of singleness’, Sociological Review 5.2: 331-351.

LAMPARD, R. 2007. ‘Couples’ Places of Meeting in Late 20th Century Britain: Class, Continuity and Change’, European Sociological Review 23.3: 357-371.

KIERNAN, K. and MUELLER, G. 1999. ‘Who Divorces?’ In McRAE, S. (ed.) 1999. Changing Britain: Families and Households in the 1990s. Oxford: Oxford U.P.

SMART, C. and NEALE, B. 1998. Family Fragments? Cambridge: Polity.

ARAI, L. 2003. ‘Low expectations, sexual attitudes and knowledge: explaining teenage pregnancy and fertility in English communities. Insights from qualitative research’, Sociological Review 51.2: 199-217.

PARK, K. 2005. ‘Choosing Childlessness: Weber’s Typology of Action and Motives of the Voluntarily Childless’, Sociological Inquiry 75.3: 372-402.

BOYLE, P.J., HALFACREE, K.H. and ROBINSON, V. 1998. Exploring Contemporary Migration. Harlow: Longman.

DUNNELL, K. 2001. ‘Policy responses to population ageing and population decline in the United Kingdom’, Population Trends 103: 47-52. {Available online: see go/lib-course-extracts}.

LIVI-BACCI, M. 2007. A Concise History of World Population (4th edition). Oxford: Blackwell.

McNICOLL, G. 2006. ‘Policy Lessons of the East Asian Demographic Transition’, Population and Development Review 32.1: 1-25.

HARRIS, B. 2004. ‘Public health, nutrition, and the decline of mortality: The McKeown thesis revisited’, Social History of Medicine 17.3: 379-407.

CALDWELL, J. 1999. ‘The delayed Western fertility decline in English-speaking countries’, Population and Development Review 25.3: 479-513.

ROWLAND, D.T. 2003. Demographic Methods and Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



One hour lecture per week, plus one 1 hour seminar per week.


Two class essays (or three, if preferred).




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