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Fertility attitudes and behaviour of women in contemporary France : A study of French and Maghrebine women in Marseille

Jones, Nicola K. M. (1984) Fertility attitudes and behaviour of women in contemporary France : A study of French and Maghrebine women in Marseille. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94449) (KAR id:94449)


This research is set within the framework of a recent decline in desired and actual fertility in France. This decline corresponds to an increasing delay in marriage, and a reorganisation of male and female roles within and outside the family.

The thesis first describes the major demographic changes in fertility and nuptiality in the post war period and examines the arguments and evidence for a relationship between the development of an approved social status for women, other than that of wife and mother, and a planning and limitation of family size. It is suggested that women's improved access to education, employment and an independent income provides resources which influence fertility by encouraging a discussion and redefinition of the couple's priorities and goals, and a breakdown in the sexual segregation of family tasks and decisions that identify women with the maternal and domestic role.

The thesis examines this proposition with reference to a sample of women attending two family planning clinics in Marseille. The sample is composed of two groups, Maghrebine immigrant women who combine a traditional, highly segregated family model with a low level of personal resources, and French women, who benefit from a greater social autonomy and have a wider range of external resources. The status, fertility expectations and behaviour of these women are examined and compared, as well as a series of intermediate variables which include knowledge, attitudes, and practice of birth control, attitudes towards work and family roles, and the actual allocation of tasks and decision making within the French and Maghrebine couple.

Evidence is found for the proposition that the access of women to an alternative social status acts to redefine the priorities, goals, and organisation of the couple, reducing the woman's identification with the maternal role, and leading to a planning and limitation of desired and actual fertility.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94449
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 14:39 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 14:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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