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Counting the population or describing society? A comparison of British and French censuses

Coast, E; Fanghanel, A; Lelievre, E; Randall, S; (2013) Counting the population or describing society? A comparison of British and French censuses. Presented at: Chaire Quetelet 2013: Demography revisited: The past 50 years, the coming 50 years, Louvain La Neuve, Belgium. Green open access

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Abstract

Censuses have been an important source of household data in most countries and household units are integral for the planning and use of resources by governments. We ask how different national (England and Wales and France) approaches to their census influence the nature of household data and the ways in which they try to reflect changing society through 3 research questions: i. What are the implications of national settings for census design, conduct and analysis? ii. How and why, does the unit of enumeration change over time and space? iii. What are the implications of national differences in census operations for understanding society, within and across nations? We use two research methods: (1) a review of census documentation (2) in-depth interviews with key individuals situated at different places on the chain of data production which were oriented around respondents’ roles in the collection and/or use of household data. The data and analyses are explicitly comparative, both over time and space. Multiple factors influence the ways in which these two countries collect census data: institutional constraints underly the rationales behind census data collection; social factors have led to subtle changes in each census in British definitions; practical factors include the role of enumerators and the internet in data collection as well as the availability (both actual and legal) of certain databases of information. The principal constraint of avoiding double counting inevitably means that major compromises have to be made in the ability of the data to represent contemporary realities.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Counting the population or describing society? A comparison of British and French censuses
Event: Chaire Quetelet 2013: Demography revisited: The past 50 years, the coming 50 years
Location: Louvain La Neuve, Belgium
Dates: 2013-11-12 - 2013-11-15
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.uclouvain.be/en-438561.html
Language: English
Keywords: Census, household, England, France, definition, data collection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1454065
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