Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

GROWING TOGETHER: Personal Relationships across the Lifespan

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

GROWING TOGETHER: Personal Relationships across the Lifespan

Article excerpt

Frieder R. Lang and Karen L. Fingerman (Eds.). GROWING TOGETHER: Personal Relationships across the Lifespan. Cambridge University Press, 2004,414pp. $75.00 hardcover.

In Growing Together Frieder Lang, Karen Fingerman and their colleagues set a series of worthwhile albeit daunting tasks for themselves. First, they set out to establish organizing principles for how relationships change over the lifespan, second; they sought to identify and organize the factors and mechanisms through which relationships change, and third; the twenty-one contributors to this volume agreed to put their various schémas to the test by examining a variety of personal relationships. The fifteen chapters that make up this volume are the product of their labours.

Growing Together draws its perspective and commitment to developing a scientific methodology from Psychology and in this sense differs from work drawing on the telling of personal stories, or life course narration. One of the interesting observations made in this volume is that in focusing on developmentally significant periods of the lifespan, researchers have tended to overlook the extended nature of relationships, stretching as they do over one's adolescence, working life, or the entire lifespan. Rather than sampling discrete periods of time or relying on memory to get at the nature of relationships, each contribution to Growing Together looks for a set of dynamic factors which increase and diminish in salience across time. The authors also posit that there are micro-genetic and evolutionary influences at work in personal relationships. While science is a long way from being able to comprehend such influences as a whole, we know that the social manifestations of depression, substance abuse, longevity, have genetic markers. Genetic markers may also be present for the social manifestation of conviviality, mate selection, or lifespan social participation. The variety of theoretical perspectives that can arise from the methodological building blocks outlined here is remarkable - and stimulating.

Antonucci, Langfahl and Akiyama suggest that relationships can be outcomes of individual and life experiences as well as the contexts for development. …

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