Updating Women's Life Course

Theoretical and Methodological Considerations

by Dawn Upchurch, Lee A. Lillard, Constantijn (Stan) Panis

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Using Merton's framework of theory and empirical research reciprocity, the authors illustrate the implications of recent empirical innovations in life course methodology for life course theory. The authors focus on three key premises: (1) the life course is dynamic in nature; (2) lives are structured along trajectories and; (3) trajectories are interrelated. The authors present an overview of current life course theory followed by a specific application of Merton's theory of reciprocity. Then they explore and test these premises using several empirical examples with data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The authors conclude with recommendations for future empirical research and theoretical advances in women's life course.

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