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Critical Demography is a new and exciting paradigm that has the potential of revolutionizing the study of population. Critical Demography facilitates the development of theories, methods and concepts that do not neatly fit within the boundaries of the prevailing paradigm, conventional demography. Critical Demography makes explicit the manner in which the social structure differentiates dominant and subordinate populations. Thus, critical demography necessitates discussions of population control and population power. For instance, in this context, one cannot speak of race and sex without likewise articulating the impact of racism and sexism. In sum, critical demography reintroduces and articulates the nature of the social structure and how it impacts upon population phenomena.

Critical Demography was founded by Dr. Hayward Derrick Horton, Associate Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Albany. In the winter of 1996, Professor Horton submitted a paper to be included as a chapter in a proposed volume on racial and ethnic demography: "Toward a Critical Demography of Race and Ethnicity: Introduction of the ‘R' Word." The reaction to the paper by the editors was even more explosive than the paper's title! Then Professor Horton experienced an epiphany! It became clear that the issue at hand was greater than the inclusion of racism in demographic analysis, although this in an of itself was revolutionary. Rather, there was a need for a new paradigm that would promote the development and nurturing of a broad range of ideas that "don't fit" within the dominant paradigm of the field. Professor Horton came to the realization that he had emphasized the wrong issue from the "R Word" paper's title. It was in fact Critical Demography that was being introduced and not racism. And, it was evident that he had inadvertently founded a new paradigm.

The national reaction to Critical Demography has been dramatic and overwhelmingly positive! To many scholars, particularly the youth of the discipline, this is a paradigm that challenges the imagination and fosters innovation. No longer is creativity an anathema to demographic analysis. And the number of adherents to the new paradigm is growing! At the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America in New York City, the first session on Critical Demography was organized by Professor Horton. The attendance was standing room only even though it was held at 8:00 a.m.! That same year, Professor Horton organized a Special Session on Critical Demography at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. The session was well attended and had enthusiastic audience. Many scholars, both junior and senior, had indicated that if a section for Critical Demography is organized in PAA, then they would return to this organization- -many for the first time in years!

In the fall of 1999, Professor Horton edited a Special Issue of the Eastern Sociological Society journal, Sociological Forum on Critical Demography. This seminal issue demonstrated the range of ideas and issues to be addressed by Critical Demography with articles on feminism and demographic theory, racial segregation and homicide, racism and mortality, the demography of ethnic change in the former Soviet Union, African marital fertility, and global attempts to control black fertility. The issue ended with an essay on Critical Demography as a means of communicating research findings to the lay public. By any standard, this was an impressive beginning for the new paradigm.

In the spring of 2000 Professor Horton was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation entitled, "Critical Demography: A Paradigmatic Shift in the Study of Population." With this grant, The Critical Demography Project attains a national identity. Now with its own office, plans are underway for the development of a national conference on Critical Demography to be held in Albany, New York in 2002 and a forthcoming international conference in Paris, France. Finally, a Critical Demography scholarly series is being planned. Professor Horton will edit the series to be published bi-annually beginning in 2009.

Copyright © 2007 Dr. Hayward D. Horton, University at Albany. All rights reserved.
This webpage was created by Minjeong Kim. Last updated by Nicole LaMarre on 8/18/08.
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