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Life Transitions in America


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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables vi

Acknowledgments vii

I Introduction

1. Discourse and Transitions in Life 3

II Eight Transitions

2. Starting College 23

3. Getting Married 41

4. The First Child 62

5. Losing a Job 85

6. Surviving a Life-Threatening Disease 106

7. Divorce 125

8. Parents' Death 143

9. Retirement 160

III Conclusion

10. Transitions in America 181

Appendix: Data Sources Overview 194

Notes 205

References 230

Index 255

About the Author

Francesco Duina is Professor and Head of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is also Visiting Professor in the Department of Business and Politics at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.


"Sociological insight comes from personal circumstance. Duina is at once Italian and American, and neither completely. In trying to understand himself he has given us a great book on the nature of American culture--rigorous, empirically driven and able to explain the extraordinary capacity of Americans to reinvent themselves." John A. Hall, McGill University "Life Transitions in America is a thoughtful, beautifully written and carefully researched treatment of eight major transitions from adolescence through the end of life. Each transition is treated in a separate chapter in which Duina combines sociological and psychological research, his own theoretical framing, and expert opinion to understand how American culture sees this change. The result is a pleasure to read, thought provoking, and ultimately satisfying." Linda Waite, University of Chicago "This is an exciting project, part of a larger return in sociology to telling big stories about individuals and society. This sorely needed book asks weighty questions about why and how we focus on, define, and respond to major life transitions. Duina analyzes a rich range of data sources, from popular culture to surveys, to better understand the social shaping of life's milestones." Kelly Joyce, Drexel University

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