A Companion to Life Course Studies
The Social and Historical Context of the British Birth Cohort Studies
Edited by Michael E.J. Wadsworth, John Bynner
Routledge – 2011 – 238 pages
Series: Routledge Advances in Sociology
Since the end of the Second World War, society has been characterised by rapid and extensive political, economic, scientific, and technological change. Opportunities for education, employment, human relations, and good health, have all been greatly affected by those changes, as have all aspects of life. Consequently, each post-war generation has been like no other before or since.
Britain, uniquely, has five large-scale life course studies that began at intervals throughout that period. They have shown how lives are shaped by individual characteristics, their past and current experiences and opportunities, and so reflect their times. This book describes those fundamental changes that affected life chances differently in each generation, and how governments struggled to accommodate the changes with new policies for improving and managing the nation's capital in terms of education, family policy, health, human rights, and economics.
A Companion to Life Course Studies provides a resource for the interpretation of the findings and design differences in the five studies, and the stimulus for new comparisons of life course between these differing generations that would contribute to policy and to understanding.
'…the book functions…as a useful and practical starting point for those intending to use the cohort studies for research.'
'…extremely helpful to those embarking on their own studies, giving an immediate and comprehensive source of additional background reading…'
'Alternatively, for those simply in search of an interesting summary of social, political and religious shifts over than past half century, this book is a highly enjoyable read.'
-Claire Packham in Significance
'Summing Up: Recommended. Professionals/practitioners, especially in sociology.'
-J. A. Jaffe, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in Choice, Jan 2012
1. Introduction by Michael Wadsworth and John Bynner 2. Politics, Citizenship and Social Capital by Lindsay Paterson 3. Family Structure, Family Policy and Practice by Lynda Clarke and Ceridwen Roberts 4. Education Policy and Practice by Gary McCulloch 5. Economic Policy and Practice by Hugh Pemberton 6. Labour Market, Employment and Skills by David Ashton and John Bynner 7. Health Policy and Practice by Michael Wadsworth 8. Leisure, Stability and Change by Ken Roberts 9. Changing Britain, Changing Generations by John Bynner and Michael Wadsworth Appendix 1: Key Elements of the Five Large-scale British Birth Cohort Studies Appendix 2: Timeline of Salient Events, Acts of Parliament and Relevant Public Inquiries
Michael Wadsworth directed the first birth cohort study until 2006, reconfiguring it as a study of physical and mental change with age, adding a study of the following generation, and the collection of DNA, and writing a history of its findings during the first thirty-six years in their historical and social context in The Imprint of Time.
John Bynner directed the Centre for Longitudinal Studies and the 1958 and 1970 cohort studies within a comparative life course study framework until 2003. He also directed the Wider Benefits of Learning Research Centre and the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy.