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The Script of Life in Modern Society

Entry into Adulthood in a Changing World

Social scientists generally agree that relations between the different life stages in advanced industrial societies are changing. Far less agreement exists over how to interpret these changes. Using an innovative approach to the study of life course, Marlis Buchmann explores the changes in educational, occupational, and family careers that threaten an end to familiar life patterns characteristic of the mid-twentieth century.

257 pages | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1989

Sociology: Individual, State and Society

Table of Contents

Part 1 - Societal Provision of Life Scripts and Casts
1. The Life Course in Modern Society: Social Construction and Individual Organization
The Institutionalization of the Life Course
Rationalization of the Economy and Polity
The Ideology of Individualism
State Regulation of the Life Course
Cultural Representation of the Life Course and of Life Stages: Validated Social Identities
Social Structure and Action Strategies: An Outline of Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice
The Individual’s Life Course: Actual Sequences of Positions and Roles
Biographical Orientations and Strategies
2. Contemporary Societal Transformations and the Changing Nature of the Life Course
Contradictory Effects of Education as a Credentialing System
The Changing Structure of Occupational Careers
Diversification of Family Life
Rationalization of Lifetime: The Impact of New Information Technologies
Changing Cultural Representations of Life Stages: From Stability to Flexibility?
Social Dynamics between Rationalization and Individualization: Destandardization of the Life Course?
The Dialectics between Choice and Constraint of Individual Action
Destandardization of the Life Course and Biographical Perspectives and Strategies
3. Changing Passages to Adulthood
The Social Construction of Youth
The Increasing Obsolescence of Youth as a Well-Defined Status Passage
Part 2 - From the 1960s to the 1980s: Differing Life Conditions and Life Experiences in the Transition to Adulthood
4. The Sociohistorical Context of the High School Classes of 1960 and 1980
Historical Time and the Aging Process
The Impact of Historical Differences in the 1960 and 1980 Cohorts
5. Biographical Orientations and the Passage to Adulthood in a Changing Society
Continuity and Change in Status Expectations and Anticipated Timing of Life Events
Shifting Patterns in the Transition to Adulthood
6. The Increasing Prominence of Education in Everyday Life
Changing Composition of Credentials and New Forms of Educational Tracking
Access to Higher Education: Who Profits from the Educational Expansion?
7. Occupational Choices: Somethings Old and Somethings New
Male and Female Labor-Force Participation Patterns
Devaluation of Educational Credentials
Labor Market Value of Credentials and Social Value of Degree Holders
Titles and Jobs: Growing Dependency of Occupational Positions on Educational Credentials
Occupational Status Attainment: Direct versus Indirect Status Inheritance
8. The Growing Diversity of the Private Life Course
The Timing of Marriage
Timetables for Parenthood
9. Outcomes of Biographical Projects: Social Dependency of Matches and Mismatches
Outcomes of High School Educational Plans
Outcomes of High School Occupational Plans

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