978-0-87154-660-9 / 9780871546609

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About the book:

The impact of long-term longitudinal studies on the landscape of 20th century social and behavioral science cannot be overstated. Looking at Lives offers an unprecedented "insider's view" into the intentions, methods, and findings of researchers engaged in some of the 20th century's landmark studies. In this volume, eminent American scholars-many of them pioneers in longitudinal studies-provide frank and illuminating insights into the difficulties and the unique scientific benefits of mounting studies that track people's lives over a long period of time. Looking at Lives includes studies from a range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, and education, which together cover a span of more than fifty years. The contributors pay particular attention to the changing historical, cultural, and scientific context of their work, as well as the theoretical and methodological changes that have occurred in their fields over decades. What emerges is a clear indication of the often unexpected effects these studies have had on public policies and public opinion-especially as they relate to such issues as the connection between poverty and criminal behavior, or the consequences of teen-age pregnancy and drug use for inner-city youth. For example, David Weikart reveals how his long-term research on preschool intervention projects, begun in 1959, permitted him to show how surprisingly effective preschool education can be in improving the lives of disadvantaged children. In another study, John Laub and Robert Sampson build on findings from a groundbreaking study begun by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck in the 1950s to reveal the myriad ways in which juvenile delinquency can predict criminal behavior in adults. And Arland Thornton, Ronald Freedman, and William Axinn employ an intergenerational study of women and their children begun in 1962 to examine the substantial relaxation of social mores for family and individual behavior in the latter decades of the 20th century.

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