How do Families with Many Children Emerge? Typology of Parents’ Transitions

How do Families with Many Children Emerge? Typology of Parents’ Transitions

Pavlyutkin I.V.

Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Senior Research Fellow, Sociology of Religion Research Laboratory, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia.

Goleva M.A.

Junior Research Fellow, Sociology of Religion Research Laboratory, Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia.

ID of the Article:

The project was supported by the Russian Science Foundation in a form of a grant, project № 18-78-10089. The grant was given to Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University.

For citation:

Pavlyutkin I.V., Goleva M.A. How do Families with Many Children Emerge? Typology of Parents’ Transitions. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 7. P. 106-117


The studies of large families are focused either on poor material conditions and problems of families with many children, or on their insecurity and social exclusion. Such questions as “How do people create large families?” and “How do parents perceive this transition?” are beyond the scope of the majority of sociological investigations. This article contains the results of a research of parents’ transitions to large families based on the analysis of 46 in-depth interviews conducted in three Russian cities – Arkhangelsk, Vladimir and Moscow. The recruited respondents varied in number of children, marriage experience (number of marriages), level of education and religiosity. A comparative analysis of family stories allowed constructing a formalized typology of 5 transitions to large families: accidental, formal, planned, natural, collaborative (joint). The types of transitions described represent two opposite logics of argumentation: at one pole there is the logic of openness to births and at the other one – the logic of responsibility for birth. The results obtained allowed making an assumption that religiosity is still being an important determinant of modern fertility for large families. For example, joint transition to a large family illuminates the importance of religiosity in the post-Soviet context of fertility, as it helps parents with many children to build specific social networks – a supportive environment for communication and interaction between parents and the formation of collective forms of life (family kindergartens, family associations, parish community).

sociology of family; large family; life transitions; religiosity; social networks


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Content No 7, 2020