Men at Midlife
Men at Midlife
The concept of life stages is a relatively new one. Historians report that people first began thinking of childhood as a separate stage of life in the eighteenth century. Before that time there was only a dim awareness of the unique needs of children. Adolescence began to be talked about as a separate stage during the nineteenth century. Since then a whole body of theory and an array of institutions have emerged to meet the needs of people in the period between childhood and adulthood. Now, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, we are discovering middle age. Theories and research began to appear during the seventies, and already popular literature is full of advice on how to deal with the needs of the middle aged.
Our study began in 1971, just prior to the explosion of interest in the subject. Although we were not aware of other research in progress at the time, we had both known Daniel Levinson while graduate students at Yale and had worked with some of his colleagues. Some of his emerging interests might well have filtered toward us. In this same period, we both studied with Theodore Mills and were strongly influenced by his in-depth analysis of the interface between personality, group process, and the social system. We felt that his methodological approach, which emphasized qualitative and quantitative data, was most suitable for the range of problems that interested us. This approach guided us in our initial theorizing, our research design, and the analysis of whole families.
In our study we compare men in their late twenties to men in their late thirties and early forties. When we began our research we were close to the age of our younger men, looking at the older men as subjects of study. Over the 1970s, as we gathered and . . .