What are the most effective methods for doing life course research? The field's founders and leaders answer this question, giving readers tips on: the art and method of the appropriate research design; the collection of life-history data; and the search for meaningful patterns to be found in the results.

Innovation in the Typical Life Course

Janet Z.Giele

Two major examples of life course innovation in modern times are the change in men's retirement age after 1900 and the massive entry of women into the paid labor force after 1950. Although many recognize these changes as having far-reaching significance, the phenomena themselves rarely have been studied as anything more than demographic shifts in the way in which people lead their lives. Yet, each of these trends has been accompanied by a major change in the norms and ideals of how life should be lived. The new life patterns have become the basis for new social institutions that persist beyond the lives of the pioneers.

My mission in this chapter is to examine the process of innovation in ...

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