What do reality TV shows such as Supernanny really tell us about child development? Are teenage rebellions and midlife crises written into our DNA? Does being a grandparent - or even a great-grandparent - equate to being old? This book encourages readers to think about these questions by highlighting the many different ways the life course can be interpreted, including themes of linearity and multi-directionality, continuity and discontinuity, and the interplay between nature and nurture, or genetics and culture. From birth and becoming a parent, to death and grieving for the loss of others, key research studies and theories are introduced, and their contemporary relevance and validity discussed. All stages of the life course are considered in conjunction with issues of social inequality (such as social class, race/ethnicity and gender) and critical examination of lay viewpoints.
The book's comprehensive coverage of the life course counters the limitations of working with a certain group or age category in isolation, and its interdisciplinary focus recognizes the centrality of working in and across multi-professional teams and organizations. It will be essential reading for students on vocational programmes in social work, the allied health professions, nursing and education, and will provide thought-provoking insight into the wider contexts of the life course for students of psychology and sociology.
* Exam copies only available to lecturers for whom the book may be suitable as a course text.
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'Learning and teaching about the human life course to student
social workers in one module over one term has always seemed to me
to be a tall order...However, having reviewed Lorraine Green's
book, I can now confidently recommend this as an excellent place to
start...Green's book is a rarity and a great achievement, providing
the reader with a cogent account of the life course...Now, it is
not only Green's students who can avail themselves of this
knowledge; we all can.'
British Journal of Social Work
'Lorraine Green has produced an impressive and stimulating text.
She rigorously shakes some of the lazy orthodoxies which can settle
into our understandings of the human life course, yet the work
remains accessible and relevant to both professionals and
researchers who seek to understand this important domain.'
Sue White, Professor of Social Work, Lancaster University
'Ambitious, up-to-date and very readable. Drawing primarily upon
sociological and psychological theory and research,
Understanding the Life Course will be invaluable to students
studying on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses,
particularly those on vocational and professional degrees in the
broad health and welfare areas.'
Nigel Parton, NSPCC Professor in Applied Childhood Studies, University of Huddersfield
'Multi-disciplinary and theoretically informed, this book makes
excellent use of examples and careful explanation to inform our
understanding of the life course. Thought-provoking yet lively,
clearly written and accessible, it makes a substantial contribution
to the texts in this area.'
Serena Bufton, Principal Lecturer in Sociology, Sheffield Hallam University
Acknowledgments page vii
What this book is about 1
Why combine sociology and psychology? 3
Who this book is for and why it will be useful 3
Summary of the chapters: brief contents 5
1 Understanding the Life Course 10
Changes affecting the contemporary life course in the UK 10
Unreality TV, people’s perceptions of human ‘nature’ and lay theorizing 14
Sociology and psychology 19
Life course sociology and life span psychology 23
Social science research methods 30
Life span psychology, life course sociology and multidisciplinarity 33
2 Traditional Psychological Approaches to Children 40
Physical development and memory 41
Psychoanalytic development 44
The psychosocial approach 47
Modern psychoanalytic theories and attachment 50
Cognitive development 52
Modern cognitive developmental theory 54
Learning theories 56
Language acquisition 59
3 The New Social Studies of Childhood 63
Criticisms of developmental psychology 67
The ‘new sociology of childhood theorists’ and other social perspectives 73
4 Adolescence and Youth 89
Adolescence and psychology 89
Youth and sociology 104
5 Young Adulthood 119
Psychology and young adulthood 119
Sociology and young adulthood 128
6 Middle Adulthood 149
Psychology and middle adulthood 150
Sociology and middle adulthood 160
7 Old Age 174
Old age and psychology 178
Old age and sociology 187
8 Death, Dying, Grief and Loss 200
Bereavement and psychology 201
The sociology of death and dying 206