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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.