Between Scarcity and Modernity: Working Class Families in Prague in the Interwar Period
This study investigates the life experiences of working class families in Prague in the interwar period with particular emphasis on processes of family formation and sustainment. With regards to the notion of “family formation,” I examined in particular the search for partners, patterns of cohabitation, and sociological aspects of partner’s choice. I analyzed the life course of workers´ families with a focus on child births, questions pertaining to health, and divorces and other non-traditional forms of family. Working class families are interpreted as having undergone and reacted to different aspects of modern social change. These include demographic transition (declining infant mortality, declining fertility), the adoption of modern values (individualization, rise of divorce rates, secularization, female emancipation, multiple identities), the effects of World War I (material scarcity, high mortality), local circumstances (housing shortages), and persistent traditional patterns and values in the mentality among the working class (gender inequality and family hierarchies).