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Life Course Perspective

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1 Life Course Perspective
Bengston, V. L., & Allen, K. R. (1993). The life course perspective applied to families over time. In P. G. Boss, W. J. Doherty, R. LaRossa, W. R. Schumm, & S. K. Steinmetz (Eds.), Sourcebook of family theories and methods: A contextual approach (pp ). New York: Plenum Press.

2 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Introduction: To Study Families Over Time we Need to Move beyond the individual life span metaphor. Move beyond family level of analysis. Examine intimate connections in families and long-term relationships in terms of social structure, and history. Explore socially constructed meanings which result from transitions and communication. Refine concepts, methods, and theories to explain change over time within families. Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

3 Basic Themes of the Life Course Perspective
Time Context Process Meaning Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

4 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Five Specific Points: Time influences relationships in three ways: Life experiences influence relationships. Family events and family transitions influence individuals and interactions. Historical time -- events in the broader social context -- influence roles and values. Individuals are influenced by social context Social structures (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia) influence individual development. Individuals actively interact with social context and structure. This produces a reciprocal influence between families/individuals and social context via socially constructed meaning systems. Social structures change and this change influences individuals and relationships. There is an interplay of micro- and macro- levels of development. Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

5 Five Specific Points (cont.):
Research is dynamic, focusing on both process and change: they are a dialectic. It is important to consider diversity. Research should be multi-disciplinary. Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

6 Historical Origins and Research Traditions
The Human Development Tradition: explicitly studied family influence on individual development Life Span Developmental Psychology: emphasizes individual development and behavior. Family Development Theory: Suggested Three Levels of Analysis Individual-psychological. Interactional-associational. Social-institutional. Sociology of Age Stratification: macrosocial perspective focusing on the influence of age. Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

7 Historical Origins and Research Traditions (cont.)
Social-Historical Studies of the Family: Emphasizes changing social nature of individual time and family time within changing historical context. Transitions are imbedded in history: broad change influences families which, in turn, reciprocally influences society. The Life Course Perspective -- A New “Paradigm”? Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

8 Assumptions and Central Concepts (see Table 19-2).
The “Multiple Time Clocks” Assumption Ontogenetic time and ontogenetic events Historical time and historical events The Social Ecology Assumption Social structural context Social meanings Cultural contexts The interplay of macro-micro levels of analysis The Diachronic Assumption Homeostasis and adaptation Interactions of age, period, and cohort effects Feedback Over Time among Structures and stages of development The Heterogeneity Assumption Diversity and differences Aging diversity Structural diversity Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

9 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Table 19-2 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

10 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Table 19-2 (cont.) Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

11 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Table 19-2 (cont.) Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

12 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Table 19-2 (cont.) Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

13 Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson
Table 19-3: Changes in American Family as the Result of Improved Life Expectancy Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

14 Figure 19-2: Influence of Intra- and Intergenerational Processes
Problem Family Relationships A Problem Behavior B Problem Family Relationships Problem Behavior C A: Intragenerational Hypothesis A,B: Intergenerational Hypothesis C: Life Course Development Hypothesis Dr. Ronald J. Werner-Wilson

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