By Kevin McQuillan
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Additional info for Culture, Religion, and Demographic Behaviour: Catholics and Lutherans in Alsace
The majority of families, however, combined weaving with agricultural work. The other two villages were located in the mountainous canton of Ville. This was one of the poorest regions in Alsace with little good farmland. Here weaving was often combined with seasonal work in the surrounding forests. Many men worked at least part of the year as loggers or in the small mills and woodshops which depended on the lumber business. Families frequently spent part of the year gathering wild berries which were either sold on the market or distilled into eaux-de-vie.
The years 1815-70 were marked by constant population growth. In contrast to many other regions of France, where fertility control spread rapidly and birth rates declined, there is little evidence of any significant downturn in the birth rate for Alsace (Coale and Treadway 1986). Mortality rates, too, remained high, with the infant mortality rate among the highest in France. In addition to high mortality, the countryside continued to be marked by significant emigration. Much 24 Culture, Religion, and Demographic Behaviour of this flowed to the cities, Strasbourg and Mulhouse in particular, but, again in contrast to other French regions, Alsace was a key point of departure for North America.
It did not, however, place people in an intolerable situation that forced them to choose between observing the rules of the group and prosperity or personal happiness. Rather, the broadly agreed-upon rules of social life are likely to influence the strategies people follow in dealing with their economic and social environment (Kreager 1986). As Swidler has argued, "a culture has enduring effects on those who hold it ... by providing the characteristic repertoire from which they build lines of action" (1986, 284).