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.

Linking History and Human Lives

Glen H.ElderJr.
Lisa A.Pellerin

No feature of the emerging life course paradigm is more distinctive than its attention to the relation between historical change and life patterns. As Ryder (1965) so aptly noted, “Each new cohort makes fresh contact with the contemporary social heritage and carries the impress of the encounter through life” (p. 844). Environmental variation always implies the potential for life course variation, and the latter in aggregate form has the potential for altering the social order. Each cohort “is a possible intermediary in the [social] transformation process, a vehicle for introducing new postures” (p. 844). From a macro perspective, researchers study the intersection of history with lives to understand not only how the cohort has been shaped by its ...

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