The Sexuality-Reproduction Nexus and the Three Demographic Transitions: An Integrative Framework

Nikolai Botev, UNFPA

ABSTRACT: Drawing on Foucault’s concept of biopower and sexuality as key to social control, on demographic transition theory, and on cognate concepts and theories, as well as on findings from anthropology, archeology and other disciplines I outline a hypothesis that four demographic regimes can be identified over the course of human history based on the locus and modus of control over reproduction. According to that hypothesis the locus and modus of control have moved from kin/group control through behavioral regularities facilitated by the emergence of mechanisms such as postpartum amenorrhea, menopause and the particular age-profile of fecundity in women during the paleo regime, via social control by rigidly regulating sexuality, mostly through the institution of marriage, during the patriarchal regime, to individual control made possible by effective contraception, freer expression of sexuality and re-balancing gender relations in the contemporary regime, and is likely to move to a combination of individual control over coital reproduction and social control over non-coital reproduction (exercised through legal and other levers aimed at balancing the interests and rights of individuals/parents, offspring and the society as a whole) during the assisted reproduction regime.

Presented in Session 82: New Perspectives on Fertility Transition