Phenomenon of Critical Demography Analysis

The phenomenon «critical demography» was discovered by American Professor of Sociology Dr. Hayward Derrick Horton. In 1996 he wrote a work about racial and ethnic demography: “Toward a Critical Demography of Race and Ethnicity: Introduction of the ‘R’ Word.”

Critical demography is a new and interesting system of views and opinions. It helps to combine and develop different methods, concepts and theories, which are rarely mixed with each other in the measures of foundational paradigm and demography in its generic sense. Some theories and methods are new; others are borrowed from the sociological studies. Critical demography is distinguished from conventional demography in four important ways: 1) critical demography is explanatory and predictive while conventional demography is descriptive; 2) it is theory driven while its counterpart is data driven; 3) critical demography challenges the status quo while conventional demography tacitly accepts and support it; and 4) critical demography is reflexive while conventional demography is assumptive (Horton, 1999).

The main task of critical demography is to pay a great attention to the methods that social structures such as relation of power and domination influence the demographic phenomena of migration and mortality. So critical demography analizes and rethinks over the very core of the social structure and its effect upon population. According to critical demography every social structure can be divided into dominant and subordinate population. That’s why it investigates the questions of population power and population control. In contemporary America one can observe the simultaneous growth of the minority populations alongside with the transition of the American economy from the manufacturing towards the information and service industrial basis. First time in the history of America the middle class of the dominant population has to enter into rivalry with its own constituents within America’s minority population. According to this being white and educated is not a guarantee for getting a prestigious job. To bear up its status in the social structure the dominant part of the population exploits all its power. So it is the very context when the question about racism in modern times appears. The work of professor Lieberson “A Piece of the Pie” is a great example of racism, population power and control in the USA (Lieberson, 1980).

General demography seldom touches the question of racism but for the critical demography it is the urgent problem. Racism as a concept underlines and accentuates the necessity for the future development of critical demography. In next studies the concept of racism will help to explain racial drops on series of demographic and social indicators. For example, American sociologist Derrick Horton in his work “Critical Demography and Racism: The Case of African Americans” demonstrates how a new paradigm, critical demography, can be employed to facilitate the use of racism as a concept of analysis in the demography of African Americans (Horton, 1999). Due to racism demographers can predict the consequences of growing ethnic and racial variety in the second half of the 21st century.

The newly minted paradigm of critical demography touches upon the questions of racism and mortality, feminism and demographic theory, homicide and racial segregation. On the first level of its development the new sociological trend studies the marital fertility in Africa, the demography of ethnic change in the former Soviet Union and also international efforts to regulate black fertility. From year to year the critical demography’s paradigm is expanded. The critical demography itself can be considered as a tool for change.


Horton, Hayward Derrick. (1999). Critical Demography: The Paradigm of the Future? Sociological Forum: 14(3): 353 – 367.

Lieberson, Stanley. (1980). A Piece of the Pie: Black and White Immigrants Since 1880. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Salter, M. B. (2001). Critical Demographies and International Relations. International Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, Volume 38, Number 3, pp. 335-356.

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