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Most of history i have heard has been about states, monarchies, grand buildings, etc. I'd like to get a picture of the general population throughout history. For example:

  • where and how the general population lives
  • what does an average person believe in
  • how does the society look upon women, men, strangers, community, religion, faith
  • how long is the workday
  • what is the life expectancy
  • how many children survive to adulthood
  • how socially mobile is the society

As most of the population is probably illiterate, are there any primary sources?

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closed as not constructive by Tom Au, DVK, Steven Drennon Apr 27 '12 at 15:52

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That is a large question that could be better answer in a books -- which it has been. Hence it is not a good fit. Could you make it more localised in time/country/population? – Sardathrion Feb 6 '12 at 10:54
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The absolutely excellent author is Fernan Braudel. I am afraid, I don't know about the quality of translation of his "Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries", 3 vols. (1979) English translation by Siân Reynolds.
The first volume is all about how they lived what ate, what put on, how and why travelled, and everything. This book was also translated to Russian.

Sometimes you can find very interesting information on the thematical historical books. History of prostitition, of woman, of family and so on.

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Judging by the description on Amazon, that is exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks a lot! – ipavlic Feb 6 '12 at 13:26
@Gangnus, I remember I've read "Grammar of civilizations" and I was generally disappointed with how quickly Braudel jumps to (over-) generalized conclusions, with a little regard to proper sourcing and without drawing any lines between facts, educated guesses and wild-ass guesses. He also tends to climb into useless and unfalsifiable high level abstractions. Is the "Civilization and Capitalism" any better in this respect? – kubanczyk Feb 7 '12 at 17:06
I have read the book 20 years ago. I remember that it was interesting and even being a very severe critic, I don't remember any greater logical disrepancies. On the other hand, I am not a professional historic, but applied mathematician, so, I have another view on logic. – Gangnus Feb 7 '12 at 17:29

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