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.

The Craft of Life Course Studies

The Craft of Life Course Studies

Angela M.O'Rand

Life course research in the 20th century has been driven by the productive tension between traditional humanistic interests in the quality and course of human lives as they are lived, on the one hand, and disciplinary and technical developments in the social sciences that have improved the precision of observation and analysis, on the other. Although the long coexistence of these two concerns in some social sciences occasionally may have developed into rivalries yielding episodes of divisiveness and animosity (e.g., Smith's [1994] recent history of sociology in the 1920s and 1930s), their joint contributions to life course research today are readily identifiable. This chapter examines several contemporary features of the practice of life course research that reflect the ...

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