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Conceiving the FuturePronatalism, Reproduction, and the Family in the United States, 1890-1938$
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Laura L. Lovett

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831076

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807868102_lovett

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The Political Economy of Sex

The Political Economy of Sex

Edward A. Ross and Race Suicide

(p.77) 4 The Political Economy of Sex
Conceiving the Future

Laura L. Lovett

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on economist and sociologist Edward Alsworth Ross, and his sociological theory of race suicide and social control. It examines the main ideas of Ross's theory, particularly his argument that social change must be controlled by using the rural family as a tool. The chapter also discusses Ross's emphasis on the regulation of birthrates—especially the need to raise the birthrate among “superior”white women—as a matter of controlling social order in the image of a natural order, and how his nostalgic projection of the rural family was sentimentally invoked as the “traditional American family.” Alarmed by the changes brought about by immigration on the whole fabric of society, Ross called for massive social reform and invoked Emile Durkheim's work on suicide as an example of a natural law in sociology. He also idealized the farm and railed against “the deteriorating influences of the city and factory.” The chapter elaborates on Ross's vision of the ideal American and looks at Theodore Roosevelt's role in bringing the issue of race suicide to the American public.

Keywords:   sociological theory, race suicide, social control, Edward Alsworth Ross, social change, rural family, birthrate, immigration, social reform, Theodore Roosevelt

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