Essay on Health and Social Care

9564 Words Jun 25th, 2015 39 Pages
Forthcoming in: Ursula M. Staudinger and Ulman Lindenberger (eds.), Understanding Human Development: Lifespan
Psychology in Exchange with Other Disciplines. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.


Karl Ulrich Mayer, 2002

The sociology of the life course and life span psychology - diverging or converging pathways?

1. Introduction
In the last twenty to thirty years both life span psychology and the sociology of the life course have experienced a great and long take off with regard to theory building and conceptualization, methodological advances and empirical studies. Within sociology, but also partly in demography, economics and social policy studies, a cohort and life course perspective, event history analysis and
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Glen Elder’s now classic study on


the “Children of the Great Depression” (1974) and the consequent research of his group count among the

best examples. Many of the actors not least personally knew each other, frequently interacting and sometimes cooperating. Although not that numerous, there were also at least several attempts to provide something like a common theoretical frame (Featherman 1983; Elder/Caspi 1990; Baltes 1997 and in this volume; Baltes et al. 1999; Heckhausen 1999; Diewald 1999). Even some identity blurring appears to have taken place, since some labeled as psychologists by sociologists were labeled as sociologists by psychologists. In retrospect, despite all the strong mutual recognition and reinforcement, surprisingly little convergence and integration has actually occurred. Life span psychology and life course sociology now seem to stand further apart than in the seventies. The main purpose of this comment is to reconstruct and understand this impasse as seen from the point of view of a sociologist. The major questions to be raised are whether and to what extent these divergences are necessary and legitimate or whether they should be seen as mutual and detrimental shortcomings which should be and can be overcome. I will

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