Historical Social Research

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Thomas Etzemüller, The Population Discourse: A Transnational Matrix. The Case of Germany and Sweden [Abstract]

Since the 19th century, the question of population has been discussed in the form of a specific matrix. Population is described as human capital. It can serve a modern nation as a resource if it is biologically and socially optimised, but could also pose a threat if ‘degeneration’ escalates. Thus, the demographic question is always dealt with in a dualistic manner. The human capitals’ ‘valuable’ part does not breed enough children, the socially or biologically problematic or even ‘substandard’ part of the population produces far too much offspring. The fact that this pattern shapes the speaking about population transnationally, can be shown by comparing such very different social systems like Sweden and Germany.