life course

life course

the process of personal change, from infancy through to old age and death, brought about as a result of the interaction between ‘biographical events’ and ‘societal events’. The term is preferred by many to life cycle because, in recognizing that people do not experience their lives strictly in terms of chronology, it focuses on sociohistorical processes as both the result of human action and as a background to personal biography Life cycle may be regarded as the process of change and development of a person, an institution or an entity and is therefore similar in meaning to ‘life course’. However, because it suggests a continuous and renewable process, as in ‘the cycle of the seasons’, it has connotations of inevitability, similarity and determinism which may be considered inappropriate to an understanding of how human lives are experienced at the level of individual personal relationships and in the context of the social and historical forces which influence lives. Both terms are often used interchangeably, but current preference is for ‘life course’ for the reasons given.

Sociological and psychological concern with the life course has grown in recent years. One of the first theorists to propose that development does not end when adulthood is reached, and who described eight successive stages of psychosocial development, was Erik Erikson (1963). Other classic authors include Charlotte Bühler (1953), whose work, like Erikson's, particularly illustrates the NATIVIST approach, emphasizing the common process underlying the human life course (this being closest to the definition life cycle). Other authors (e.g. Dohrenwend and Dohrenwend, 1974) have emphasized the effect of different experiences, i.e. the contrast between lives rather than their similarities (this being closest to the definition life course).

References in periodicals archive ?
'Taking this into account, we are also better able to understand how loneliness is experienced across the life course, rather than trying to establish an absolute age at which people feel most lonely.'
With friends, family and loved ones cheering them on, they embarked on the 5km Race for Life course around the picturesque grounds in the warm sunshine yesterday.
'Joining the uniformed services was a natural life course for us because that's how we were raised,' Kier said.
Connecting Families?: Information and Communication Technologies, Generations, and the Life Course
When talking about the concert, Ma said "I want to share Bach's unaccompanied cello suite, it has created a life course with me," reported CNA.
Starting on July 16, the Diageo Learning for Life course offers participants six weeks of practical coaching and employability training.
The premise is at the core of an ideology known as life course theory, the subject of a new book from APHA Press.
Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.
Across the life course, new forms of community, ways of keeping in contact, and practices for engaging in work, healthcare, retail, learning and leisure are evolving rapidly.
It is the largest study to date reporting causes of death in men and women across the life course, and the findings suggest that lifestyle, especially tobacco smoking, is an important component in the effect of intelligence on differences in mortality.
In 1993, clinical psychologist Terrie Moffitt presented a developmental theory that describes two key offending trajectories, the adolescent limited and life course persistent.