Familie şi societate în nord-vestul Transilvaniei (a doua jumătate a secolului XIX – începutul secolului XX) (2008)
The historical-demographic approach of family in their relationship with society with different transitory societal or community typologies is a complex initiative that needs a methodological approach including peripheral elements as well, besides a deep analysis on the central defining elements. The historical demography and other sciences, such as anthropology or history of mentalities, by directly or collaterally approaching the family, often make references to the three important moments in the individual's life: birth, marriage and death.
We have used several categories of documentary sources in our survey. We have the information on the population in north-western Romania due to the ecclesiastic notes (in the parish records or reports and the bishopric notes); on the other hand, we have the information provided by the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian state. Methodologically, the first phase of our research consisted of the preparation of the documents investigation strategy, as expected. In our research, we consider the fact that we approach the area of ecclesiastic entities, as most of our sources for the 19th century belong to the church. This imposes a stress on the confession and its importance. Besides confession, an aspect that we wish to underline is ethnicity. In our investigation on the family the main stress was laid on the survey and analysis of different marital behaviours. Through different constraints and determinisms entailed by the possibility to choose, marriage is highly relevant in establishing behavioural laws (if they ever existed!?). The dimension of the marital market corroborated with the ethno-confessional and socio-professional realities provided the particularities of the marital phenomenon.
Referring to the lay and ecclesiastic legal framework, we support the need for a flexible approach of the topic. The logic of this foray consists of the visualisation of the legal framework – rigid and impregnated with an obvious moralising discourse – on the one hand, and the image of conformism and means of adaptation of the individual, on the other hand.
The starting point of the family is marriage. If we approach marriage from the point of view of the confessional and ethnic conditioning, we get to an analysis of the mixed marriages phenomenon. In fact, the analysis of the ethno-confessional and socio-professional determinisms and of other types of community or individual conditions can be easily carried out in the case of mixed marriages. The central point of our research is the analysis of Romanians', Hungarians', and Germans' marital behaviours without ignoring the image of this phenomenon at other populations in the area.
An analysis on birth and death rate, or natural growth, is able to provide information on the impact demographic phenomena had upon family. A world where death rate was very high and where family would react through a high birth rate was undoubtedly influenced by the demographic flow. Irrespective of the society typology, divorce, concubinage, and illegitimacy (no matter their way of manifestation) were forms of social deviance leading to the dilution of family image and precepts. We do not discuss here a dilution of the traditional precepts on the family, as someone might misunderstand; it is an erosion of the idea of family in general. The "family" began to acquire other forms than the "official" ones. From the relationship of the family with the community were born mentalities, roles and social statuses. The family, its formation, the relationships between man, woman, children and relatives, as well as the relationships with the rest of the community were filtered by the "village gossip". The need for a strong solidarity that was necessary in the unfriendly conditions at the time compelled the individuals to accept the cohabitation with other members of the family (including the extended one) and with the rest of the community.