Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

The History of the Family

For a Special Issue on

Family and Society in the Face of Environmental Stresses

Manuscript deadline
30 June 2024

Cover image - The History of the Family

Special Issue Editor(s)

Grażyna Liczbińska, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
[email protected]

Jörg Vögele, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Family and Society in the Face of Environmental Stresses

The concept of stress was introduced into scientific literature in the 20th century by the Austro-Hungarian researcher Hans Hugo Selye. Although the word “stress” is presently a part of everyday language, describing the details of the term is not an easy task. Seyle defined stress as the body's nonspecific response to events that disturb its balance or exceed its ability to effectively cope with these challenges. As such, stress is an inevitable part of the life for individuals, families, and societies.

Environmental stress is generally defined as an imbalance between environmental demands and human response capabilities. The environment – natural, physical, social, and cultural – affects individuals in many ways.  As such, there are many sources of stress, including social and political instability and change, economic crises, unemployment, epidemics, terrorist attacks, and of course wars. Stress can also be induced by natural disasters – hurricanes, floods, heat waves and earthquakes; such unexpected or unpredictable events, often labelled exogenous shocks, occur at a specific moment in time and have significant effects on the health of individuals in the affected communities, and may also influence a society demographically and economically, and perhaps in other ways.  Natural disasters also commonly occur on a large scale and often involve populations in specific geographic regions which may include one or more countries. Such environmental stresses are also associated with events of daily living which influence the lives of individuals and families. On the other hand, changes in living conditions of individuals and families may also induce stress. Stressful events such as the death of a child, loss of a mother or father, loss of a job, and perhaps others, may result in isolation from others, alcohol/drug abuse, violence, etc., and may also result in emigration.  Reactions to stress, of course, depend on age and gender, socio-economic status (education, place of residence, living conditions), living conditions, health status, etc.

Research has increasingly provided evidence addressing the influence of external shocks on the biological condition and health status of individuals and communities, e.g., disease, famine, political changes, economic recessions, and environmental pollution, among others. It is also likely that earlier populations did not have access to effective tools needed to mitigate the effects of environmental stresses. Moreover, the physical environment affected people in many ways over time. As such, it is of interest to consider how earlier societies coped with various environmental stresses as well as their consequences, and how the adverse conditions influenced health, standard of living and demography in the affected communities.

The objective of this special issue of The History of the Family is to provide a platform for sharing and comparing results of interdisciplinary studies addressing the impact of environmental stresses, broadly defined, on families and societies past and present. This call for papers aims to highlight the broad scope of multidisciplinary research addressing adverse conditions which influence families and more broadly society in general with specific emphasis on recent historical societies. Potential topics may include, for example,

  • Intergenerational transmission of the consequences of stress,
  • short- and long-term outcomes of exposure to adverse prenatal conditions,
  • the potential impact of exogenous shock and social inequalities on the proportion of males to females at birth,
  • the impact of illness, death, addiction and/or domestic violence on families and specifically offspring,
  • gender, economic and social variation in response to stress,
  • the influence of stressful environmental conditions on the transition from childhood through adolescence on subsequent reproductive life,
  • the influence of epidemics on the individual and family,
  • the impact of exogenous shocks on demographic behaviours, and
  • the impact of various environmental stresses on secular changes in the growth and maturity status of children and adolescents.

This issue of The History of the Family thus welcomes original research addressing historical aspects of the family in the context of demography, epidemiology, human biology, medicine, economics, sociology, and other disciplines.