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Life course research focuses on variations and similarities in individuals’ lives from as early as being an unborn child until old age and death. As a multi- and interdisciplinary field of research, ... read more
Life course research focuses on variations and similarities in individuals’ lives from as early as being an unborn child until old age and death. As a multi- and interdisciplinary field of research, it seeks to identify and explain patterns of transitions and trajectories in different life domains within and across different countries.
Sociologists Glen H. Elder and Karl Ulrich Mayer have identified a number of key characteristics, which will be discussed in this seminar. From these sociological perspectives, life courses are seen as being shaped by the social structures and institutions in which they are embedded in a given context and at a given historical time—potentially leading to country-, cohort-, and period-specific outcomes. Life courses are further conceptualized as being interdependently linked to other people’s life courses. In addition, they can be understood as cumulative self-referential processes in which previous events and resources determine individuals’ present and future behaviors, and life situations. This means that cumulative advantages and disadvantages are likely to reinforce social inequalities.
In this seminar, we will study life-course related patterns of social stratification and social inequalities from a sociological perspective. Aside from the theoretical concepts mentioned above, we will discuss quantitative empirical studies on different life domains (e.g., education, employment, family formation) in European and North American countries.