Family and household structures in the history of the Europe
In the middle of 1960-es the British scholar John Hajnal demonstrated perspectives of the comparative studies of the family structure in different regions of the world. He described two patterns of the marriage behavior in the Western and Eastern parts of the Europe in 19th century. The conference «Household and Family in Past Time» (Cambridge, 1969) stimulated the further studies. In the 1970-es the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure became the leader in the field of the comparative approach. Peter Laslett, the head of the group, proposed in 1983 an elaborated criteria for comparison of family of household structures all around the world. The Austrian school of historical demography, especially Michael Mitterauer and Karl Kaser, looked for historical explanations of different behavioral patterns (cultural traditions first of all).
The contribution of eastern researchers was rather modest. They published some figures on different regions of the Russian Empire but the methods of calculation usually did not allow comparison with the data neither from the Western Europe nor the local samples between themselves (except the Estonian scholars' methods).
The conference «Where does Europe end?» hold in Budapest in 1994 gave an evidence of stable interest to the issue. It was discussed also at the conference «Household and Family in Past Time» in Palma-de-Mallorca in 1999. From the middle of 1990-es joint projects appear and the scholars from Western Europe and Russia began to work together in the field of the historical demography of the Eastern Europe.
New contribution into the discussion was made at the international workshop hold in Vienna in November, 2000. It was titled «Family Forms in Russian and Ukrainian History in Comparative Perspective» but in fact the discussion concentrated on the family forms in Russian and Belarusian history, and their possible historical roots. Participants of the workshop from the West so as from Russia and Belarus unanimously agreed that one should speak not about a sharp demarcation line between the West and the East of Europe (as John Hajnal asserted) but rather about a wide transitional zone including as a minimum Finland, the Baltic countries, Belarus, and the right-bank Ukraine.
Some regional peculiarities of the demographic behavior in the past, and possible explanations are also discussed in the article.