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Lecture 4

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University of Toronto St. George
Matthias Koenig

SOC256H1F - TUESDAY OCTOBER 4, 2011 TIMING AND TYPE OF LIFE COURSE STAGES COMPARING THE RANGE OF TYPES OF SOCIETIES TYPES OF STAGES In lectures after reading week, we will compare the nature of childhood and old age in different kinds of societies. Today we briefly consider types of adulthood. The more sophisticated the level of technology... Lenski et al. simple foraging to more complex, we see growth in crafts specialization, more types of technologically distinct ways of making a living, so you may do something not involved in direct production of food, you may be a metal worker but once people work with metal it becomes crucial to production of food. Therefore metal workers make a huge contribution to society as a whole. The more complicated the society, the more occupations or specializations which have own life course associated with them, differences in how you learn your trade, how wealthy you will get – all of these issues will mean people will have different life courses – With Ache there was the man’s life course and woman’s vs. more complicated later on 1) The more elaborate the division of labour -so the more different kinds of adult life courses there are -differ in: -how people learn to do their adult jobs, and how long this takes -what kinds of social settings people work in -the costs and rewards of the work they do -their work trajectories -e.g. may make steady predictable progress in an organizational hierarchy, or move from job to job, or be unemployed for long periods, or.... -With important implications for other aspects of the life course 2) The greater inequality (up to the recent past in highly developed democratic societies) -so the greater the inequality in aspects of the life course affected by status, wealth, and power - Due to increase chance of surplus – differences in wealth emerge QUESTION FOR CLASS DISCUSSION What are some of these important aspects of the life course? What is affected by status, wealth or power? – - More stratification due to inequality - Not education in terms of school - To what extent your work your own individual work, how much is it part of a team? What is your role? - Ex: !Kung go in groups to gather, no one bosses one another around, more complex societies with inequality have relationships = rich might have apprentices, so with adult life course having relationships of inferiority and superiority in workplace which affects the quality of your life course. = inequality in the quality of the nature of daily activities - Wealthier people in unequal societies to have more children because well nourished, fertile and children more likely to survive longer - Most farming societies are very labour intensive, both men and women do a lot and contribute to supply but there is a lot of inequality in wealth concerning who controls it, there is the option for more powerful to control wealth, not that women are not doing anything useful it is just hard for them to convert it into status for Kung women. - Competition is frowned upon in hunting/gathering because they are egalitarian relying on others for survival, so being competitive interferes with societies functioning and also affect people’s quality of lives 3) The greater the role of complex organizations in human lives -life course stages increasingly lived IN, and shaped by, organizations -organizations of increasing size, power, and formality - Hard to maintain in hunting/gathering – too hard in a group that is switching often, too hard to keep formal in that environment so people don’t! - But as people settle down, it is more feasible and inevitable due to all the complexity that needs to be managed - complexities of production go along with trying to coordinate many activities, wealth and power go with emergence of organizations as people begin to have little kingdoms in which rulers, subordinates, rule over others etc. = growth of more formal organizations, which become more powerful, important to our lives - Number of ways type of society affects life course stages- especially in qualitative sense due to emergence of inequality and corporations TIMING OF STAGES - Hunting and gathering – FUNCTIONAL only We have already discussed the big picture of the NATURE of timing, functional versus chronological: -Life timing was functional in hunting and gathering societies -The use of chronological age becomes more and more common as the level of technology rises -Especially for transitions that involve states or organizations -e.g. driver’s licences, or compulsory retirement at 65 -Reading 6, Keith, has some material on this -The rate of increase in the use of chronological age is slow as we move from forgers to farmers, but accelerates as we move towards more complex industrial societies with more complex social organization and more powerful organizations including states - Age clicks in as societies become more advanced European Context à European settlers in North American brought their cultures and social structures with them, so the history of life transitions in Europe is especially interesting for us. Modern North America was begun by European settlers who brought their cultures, social structures, institutions related to people’s lives. Historical records suggest that: - There was little use of age until the 17 century - How did we learn people used age? – There were records! Parish registries! Prior it did not matter, but once entered into records it clearly mattered to people! This reflected gradual attention to details! Gradual addition of exact numbers indicated even more so the importance of age with time. IT did not become important in all European societies right away, it started early with those that were most modern initially o Age became part of death records o In the 18 century, became part of marriage records as well - Historical shift to use of age included a gradual shift from approximate (rounded) age to exact numbers of years of age, as age became more important The societal timing of the use of age in individual life timing varied with the type of society: - Rate of literacy - Strength of government bureaucracy- limited in scope and did not affect lives of many people. Those societies with high rate of literacy and hence keep own records and understand them, there are a lot of people available to be recruited as record keepers, if government has big bureaucracy and keep close detail records, people can have things like birth certificates. Today you must have one! All of this stuff requires bureaucracy. It is the state of the development of the society that matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - E.g., use of age was very low in Russia even at the end of the 19 century Typical AGES at various life transitions have complex relationships to type of society, with differences between societies, and within societies, and for different transitions. – all kinds of variation! Material is there in readings… become more technologically developed societies are more complex there will be more variation inside them in terms of when critical things in life happen. - Your readings include material on transitions like age at first marriage; look this up - Here I just note that more technologically advanced societies are more: -complex -differentiated -unequal - So they have more internal VARIATION in life timing -Howell describes life timing as quite similar among !Kung men and among ! Kung women, though different for men and women. Difference in average first age between men and women for marriage. But not much difference from one person to another because not much difference when said to be functionally ready to marry. -Gillis (reading 11g) notes that pre-industrial, advanced horticultural Europe had great variation in all transitions part of becoming an adult: -Timing depended on having the required resources (such as the ability to set up a household, necessary before getting married in the European system), so the elite moved into adult roles at younger ages than the poor - Oldest in farming family ready to get married? – able to support family, the son must be old enough to perform labour involved in being a farmer, what if father is still in robust health and not ready to die? So sometimes people had to wait a while to get married because they had to wait to take over a farm already run by senior generation. Neo-local- European marriage system- young husband and wife supposed to set up new location instead of just living with brides family (what happened for Kung first marriages or sons family patrilineal) – Neo-local is expensive because you need own resources, thus often goes along with inheriting family farm etc. Constraints would be greater for more poor people… European system of rich would get married earlier than those of poor who would have to wait. Ex: Compare to Romeo and Juliet who were teenagers and were married, this is not true for all though because it was mostly privileged classes who married early because marriage was a useful mode of diplomacy, business alliance etc. Poor families had to wait until practically feasible… - thus transition to marriage was VARIABLE! Depending on details of life circumstances, whether wealthy etc. - Not that age timing moved in any fixed direction, some things got earlier and some later, patterns related to inequality changed… -As industrialization developed, class and other differences in timing continued to grow but the NATURE of the timing differences changed th -E.g. Bradbury notes that age at first marriage in 19 century Montreal was LATER for the middle class, not EARLIER as Gillis reports for pre-industrial Europe - WHY did this striking change occur? = to get ready to be a middle class adult and middle class occupation, took longer vs. being a working class worker which was achieved more quickly = The industrial worker requirements were less than middle class occupation (ex. Bank clerk (minimal) needed education etc.) – pattern shifted because requirements for marriage still the same, still had support self and new family but what it took to get there was more difficult for middle class than working class. -In highly developed societies like our own - Some transitions have become age-standardized and very low in variability (e.g. age at starting school) -some are highly variable (e.g. age at leaving school); why? à When schooling comes to an end = high variable - Many life course consequences - Why some transitions in our world have little variability while some have a lot… o Role for “does the individual have a choice or is it state mandated? o If you see some age thing happen with low variability it is because some powerful
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