Life Course Perspective
Glen H. Elder, Jr.
Life Course Sociology
Developments after World War II called for new ways of thinking about lives, society, and their relationship. The social discontinuities of economic depression, a world war, and prosperity raised questions about the course these adults followed into the middle years. The changing age composition of society also gave more visibility to the adult life course. Problems of old age directed inquiry to earlier trajectories and to the processes by which lives are influenced by a changing society. In combination, these developments placed lives in context and focused attention on their social pathways. From this background the life course perspective was conceived as both a concept and a theoretical orientation for the study of individual lives and age cohorts. As a concept, the life course refers to an age-graded sequence of events and social roles that is embedded in social structures and history. These structures vary from family relations at the micro level to age-graded educational organizations and state policies at the macro level. The life course also represents a theoretical orientation, a type of theory that guides research in terms of problem identification and formulation, rationales of design, variable selection, and explanatory analysis. The life course evolves over an extended period of time, as in a trajectory of marriage or work; and it also takes form within a short time ... log in or subscribe to read full text
You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online
If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here: