This module focuses on things that happen to most or all of us: we are born, we form relationships, we (sometimes) end relationships, we move from place to place, we (often) become parents, and we eventually die... These events within our life histories are of interest to sociologists and to researchers in the field of population studies, as well as to ourselves. They can also be a focus of attention for policy-makers, the media and society in general: think, for example, of teenage pregnancy and parenthood. Are couple relationships in 21st Century Britain very different to how they were a couple of generations ago?
Thinking about change makes population history highly relevant. But do all countries have the same kinds of population histories? Can we learn anything from what happened in Europe a century or more ago about what has been happening on the other side of the world in recent decades? Are decreases in family sizes in different times and places reflections of the same causes: do children become more expensive, restricting family size become more acceptable, and contraceptive methods become more effective? And how much do government policies have to do with these decreases?
Thinking about different countries as well as about different times can help us learn which influences tend to be crucial. If we want to understand why more people are living together without marrying, why some marriages are more likely to end in divorce than others, and why life in stepfamilies is sometimes different to life in other sorts of families, but sometimes much the same, we need data and ways of summarising them as well as ideas. It’s useful to have the kind of statistics that show how many more people are still single in their thirties than used to be the case, but we also need people to tell us about the decisions that they have made which have led them to where they are. So in understanding life-events and life-histories we need to draw upon theories, survey results, and what people have said in interviews.
Timing and CATS
This module is a Full Year module and is worth 30 CATS.