Volume 10. Towards an Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Life Course

1st Edition


  • René Levy
  • Paolo Ghisletta
  • Jean-Marie Le Goff
  • Dario Spini
  • Eric Widmer
  • Towards an Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Life Course

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    Despite the well-established consensus on the need for an interdisciplinary research paradigm to understand the unfolding of human lives within their social context, existing empirical research rarely embraces this belief. This volume aims at examining the feasibility and hurdles of interdisciplinarity specific to given research fields by bringing together leading North-American and European researchers in sociology, psychology, social psychology and social demography, all highly concerned with fostering an interdisciplinary perspective for the study of the human life course. The contributions are organized along four major axes, three of them substantive (agency and structure, transitions, and biographical re-constructions) and one methodological (methodological innovations), leaving ample leeway for the contributions to address the specific gains and difficulties of empirical interdisciplinary research within their particular domain. The editors introduce the volume by discussing general features, theoretical linkages, and transversal substantive themes of interdisciplinarity in life course research. Likewise, the volume is ended by the editors’ conclusions based on the contributions; they single out major challenges and difficulties for the interdisciplinary study of the life course, together with some promising research meant to address such difficulties and improve current knowledge about the life course.

    The volume speaks to both experienced scholars and graduate students of the life course. Advanced scholars will benefit from the latest in life course research domains and from a comprehensive overview of life course methodologies. Graduate students of the life course will find in the book an original introduction to many empirical aspects of life course research and to the application of innovative methods to various research settings, as well as rich bibliographical references from the research literature in English, German and French.

    Table of Contents

    Why Look at Life Courses in an Interdisciplinary Perspective? (R. Levy, The Pavie Team). Part I: Agency and Structure. Structure Agency and the Space Between: On the Challenges and Contradictions of a Blended View of the Life Course. (Richard A. Settersten, L. Gannon). Agency, Events, and Structure at the End of the Life Course. (V.W. Marshall). Looking at Ambivalences: The Contribution of a "New-Old" View of Intergenerational Relations to the Study of the Life Course. (K. Lüscher). Part II: Transitions. Agency and Structure in Educational Attainment and the Transition to Adulthood. (J. Mortimer, J.T. Staff, J.C Lee). Non-Normative Life Course Transitions: Reflections on the Significance of Demographic Events on Lives. (F.Y. Furstenberg). The Secret of Transitions: The Interplay of Complexity and Reduction in Life Course Analysis. (K. Bird, H. Krüger). Part III: Biographical Re-Construction. Life-Course Transitions and Social Identity Change. (N. Emler). The Impact of Personality and Living Context on Remembering Biographical Transitions. (P. Perrig-Chiello, W.J. Perrig). Studying Lives in Time: A Narrative Approach. (D.P. McAdams). Part IV: Methodological Innovations. Life Course Analysis: Two (Complementary) Cultures? Some Reflections with Examples Form the Analysis of the Transition to Adulthood. (F.C. Billari). Life Course Data in Demography and Social Sciences: Statistical and Data-Mining Approaches. (G. Ritschard, M. Oris). Five Steps in Latent Curve Modeling with Longitudinal Life-Span Data. (J.J. McArdle).

    Afterthoughts. Incitations for Interdisciplinarity in Life Course Research. (P. Ghisletta et al.).


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    © 2005
    JAI Press
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    About the editors

    René Levy

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Universites de Lausanne et de Geneve, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Paolo Ghisletta

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Universite de Geneve, Geneve, Switzerland

    Jean-Marie Le Goff

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Universite de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Dario Spini

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Universite de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

    Eric Widmer

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Universite de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland