SOC 382: Seminar in Social Psychology Sociology of Lifecourse

Intensive investigation of current scientific research on issues in the areas of social psychology, the individual, and the social self.

This course is an introduction to the theories and research associated with the life course perspective in sociology. This perspective was developed in the 1960s and 1970s out of a desire to integrate biography and history in response to dissatisfaction with the prevailing structural and temporal approaches in sociology. The life course perspective incorporates a life-long perspective on human development, in recognition of the developmental processes undergone by individuals throughout their lives, and emphasizes the continuities that exist between early-life circumstances and later-life outcomes. The life course framework is based on four central themes: the intersection of history and biography, the salience of links to significant others and between different life domains (e.g. work, family), the role of individuals in shaping their own life trajectories within social constraints, and the significance of the timing of events in one’s life. Two additional themes have more recently been added as well: diversity in life course trajectories and developmental risk and protection. The lifecourse perspective is inter-disciplinary in nature covering a broad range of substantive research topics from biomedical analyses of the timing of the onset of specific diseases to qualitative examinations of the meaning of sibling relationships in shaping an individual’s life path. This course will provide an overview of the principles of the life course perspective and of some of the lifecourse research being conducted. More importantly, it will provide a new way of thinking about, and critically examining, social phenomena.

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