Past reviews of American family history, while providing useful information about certain aspects of family life in the past, have inadequately addressed the conceptual framework informing the discipline. This article begins by reviewing four approaches developed by social scientists for studying the family: household composition, generations, family cycle, and life-course. The life-course perspective seems the most promising for a dynamic, complex view of families that links changes in the domestic sphere to wider societal trends and concerns. Using the analytical perspective of the life-course, we then examine significant historiographical contributions in four areas of family life—childbearing, early child development, adolescence, and old age.

Keyword(s): historical sociology

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error