The art and craft of life course studies captivated my attention during January 2010, from a learning-by-experience perspective. Looking back, I recognise the qualitative research growth I derived:
- Lifespan research should take into consideration both past experiences and future expectations. Concepts such as events, timing, impact and distinctive cohort experiences must be kept in mind when organising data. Appropriate research design; historic data collection; four key elements and a number of general principles of life course enquiry are captured.
- The life course inquiry into the sequence of socially defined events or transactions and roles enacted over time should be mindful of the sociology of aging and generations cohorts.
- Matilda Riley's escalator metaphor—people moving diagonally upwards and across—conveys different life experiences of cohorts.
- Robert K Merton's five decades (1948 to 1987) of life course research is captured in a checklist
- Raymond Lee cautions that simply asking may be influenced by extraneous factors, which may affect the truthfulness of the data. He encourages the observation of 'foot prints'. I elaborate on this by short notes on triangulation and crystallisation of data to enhance validity/truthfulness.