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Rethinking the Life Cycle

Author: Bryman, A., Bytheway, B., Allatt, P., Keil, T.
Year: 1987
Type: Book


A collection of papers originally presented along with those of a companion work, Women and the Life Cycle, at the British Sociological Association (BSA) 1986 conference on "Sociology of the Life Cycle" (held at Loughborough University of Technology), this twenty-fifth volume in the BSA's Explorations in Sociology series explores the resurgence of interest by sociologists in the life cycle of the family & presents different approaches to studying it, in III PARTS & 12 Chpts, with the editors' Introduction. PART I - THEORETICAL APPROACHES - contains (1) Chris Harris-The Individual and Society: A Processual Approach-examines some presumptions underlying the sociological study of aging, & proposes a reconceptualization of individual aging as movement over time through social space; & (2) Michael Murphy-Measuring the Family Life Cycle: Concepts, Data and Methods-offers a review of the life cycle literature, summarizes the images, beliefs, & debates surrounding the concept, & argues that since the traditional family life cycle model applies to only 50% of G.B.'s population, its exclusive use may hinder understanding of the demographic aspects of family change. PART II - POPULAR IDEOLOGIES - includes (3) Paul Bellaby-The Perpetuation of a Folk Model of the Life Cycle and Kinship in a Pottery Factory-uses data from a 30-month ethnographic study of a large pottery firm in Stoke-on-Trent, G.B., to demonstrate how the mental constructs of the life cycle & ideas about kinship are used by both workers & management (N = 248) to understand, explain, predict, & legitimate behavior, with focus on work organization, sickness & absence, & gender relations; (4) Jacqueline Burgoyne-Rethinking the Family Life Cycle: Sexual Divisions, Work and Domestic Life in the Post-War Period-reviews popular debates about the state of the family that have existed in GB since WWII, with focus on moral & social issues surrounding the domestic Division of Labor, women's employment, fathers' involvement in childcare, & marriage/cohabitation trends; (5) Rory Williams-Images of Age and Generation among Older Aberdonians-uses interview data from 70 people aged 60+ in Aberdeen, Scotland, to describe 5 concepts of age: early old age as liberation, a setback, or a repairing of defenses, & late old age as either resistable or a surrender; (6) Peter Wright-The Social Construction of Babyhood: The Definition of Infant Care as a Medical Problem-describes how the notion of babyhood was socially constructed in GB around 1900 & came to be a focus of medical attention, exemplifying how social institutions can tailor popular understanding & legitimize interventions into private lives & social relations; & (7) Ronnie Frankenberg-Life: Cycle, Trajectory or Pilgrimage? A Social Production Approach to Marxism, Metaphor and Mortality-criticizes past sociology, particularly Marxist approaches, for their "death-denying naturalism," & argues that death is central to any account of the life experience. PART III - RESOURCES AND TRANSFERS - concludes with (8) David Cheal-Intergenerational Transfers and Life Course Management: Towards a Socio-Economic Perspective-explodes some popular beliefs about the distribution of resources & the significance of government benefits through an exploration of the history of government transfer payments in Canada, the U.S. & G.B., & proposes a theory of intergenerational transfer as the basis for developing alternative models that are structural, historical, & based on theories of action; (9) Janet Finch-Family Obligations and the Life Course-examines support, aid, & assistance obligations between adult kin in GB using a life course perspective, conceptualizing them as either moral norms or negotiated commitments; (10) Angela Dale-The Effect of Life Cycle on Three Dimensions of Stratification-uses data from GB's 1979 General Household Survey (N = about 10,000) to develop a household categorization scheme based on family life cycle stage, & examines the effects of each stage on 3 dimensions of social stratification-labor market access, net disposable income, & household assets; (11) Lydia Morris-The Life Cycle and the Labour Market in Hartlepool-investigates the impact of life cycle stage on Ms' & Fs' labor market involvement, using data from a study of 40 married couples in Hartlepool, GB, & showing how declining labor market conditions affect family development, specifically, gender roles, gender identity, & intergenerational patterns of job transmission; & (12) Lawrence Took & Janet Ford-The Impact of Mortgage Arrears on the Housing Careers of Home Owners-questions assumptions underlying the "housing career" concept, ie, that families continue to trade up in the housing market as their opportunities & resources improve, illustrating the dangers of such assumptions with interview data from 40 Great Britain property owners experiencing problems with mortgage repayments, a phenomena that is increasing & is often underreported by building societies.

Further Details

Pages xi+255pp
Publish Location Loughborough
Publisher Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House Inc
Accession Number 26.3.03
Keywords United Kingdom

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