Kingsley Davis (1908-1997) was one of the pioneers in social
demography, and was particularly identified with the theory of the
demographic transition. This holds that the process of
industrialization first causes mortality to decline, leading to a
substantial rate of population growth and only later causes
fertility to fall, leading eventually to the cessation of
population growth. Kingsley Davis is especially remembered for his
arresting and forceful critique of family-planning programs
intended to achieve zero population growth.
Before he devoted his major attention to social demography, Davis
had distinguished himself through influential articles on the
structure of family and kinship, including the topics of jealousy
and sexual property, the sociology of prostitution, and
illegitimacy. He had an early interest in structural-functional
analysis, which resulted in his famous and controversial article on
stratification, co-authored with Wilbert Moore, and his equally
famous presidential address to the American Sociological
Association in 1959.
David Heer's biography of Kingsley Davis is based on material
contained in the Kingsley Davis Archive at the Hoover Institution
Library at Stanford University, the Kingsley Davis graduate file at
Harvard University, the interview of Kingsley Davis by Jean van der
Tak in "Demographic Destinies" (1990), and David Heer's personal
relationship with Kingsley Davis. The book also contains thirty of
the most important writings by Kingsley Davis. These were chosen,
in part, for the number of citations received in the Cumulative
Social Science Citation Index, and in part to ensure that readers
would be able to assess the continuity of Kingsley Davis's ideas at
all stages of his career.
" "Kingsley Davis" is] An excellent selection of Kingsley Davis'
most important writings, enriched by bibliographic detail about his
career." -Harriet B. Presser, Distinguished University Professor,
University of Maryland
"David Heer has produced an unusually rich and personal biography
of one of the greatest intellects in the history of sociology. In a
very scholarly yet intimate way, Heer has assembled the pieces of
Davis's personal life and interwoven them with a narrative about
Davis's most influential writings. But, importantly, these
influential writings are also included in "Kingsley Davis"], so
that you can judge for yourself how insightful Kingsley Davis was
about human society. This book ensures that we will continue to
learn from him for decades to come." -John R. Weeks, Director,
International Population Center
David M. Heer is professor of sociology emeritus at the University
of Southern California and senior fellow at the Center for
Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California,
San Diego. He is the author of "After Nuclear Attack, Society and
Population, Undocumented Mexicans in the United States," and
"Immigration in America's Future."
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