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Regular version of the site

Time in Social Sciences: Approaches and Measures

Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Delivered at:
Department of Demography (Institute of Demography)
Course type:
Elective course
2 year, 2, 3 module


Mitrofanova, Ekaterina S.

delivers lectures, conducts seminars and administers exams

Программа дисциплины


The aim of the course is to give the students the most important knowledge about time and methods of work with it in the Social Sciences. First, we will discuss the nature of time and the approaches to it in different disciplines. Next, we will review the differences between the three dimensions of time (age, period and cohort). Then we will study the advantages of the life-course approach and qualitative and quantitative methods of analysing biographies. For practice, we will use the example of the transition to adulthood as the first major change of social statuses and age-group belonging. We will examine how quantum, timing, tempo and sequencing of the transition to adulthood vary across countries and generations. The final assignment for students will be to conduct a small comparative study using all the obtained knowledge. Students will be able to choose either a qualitative approach (interviews with three people from different generations or cultures) or quantitative approach (comparative analysis of Russians and Germans using Event History Analysis and other methods). After this course, the students will have a structured view of different concepts and aspects of time (APC-method, theory of generations, life-course approach and transition to adulthood). They will be able to work with biographical events in MS Excel and IBM SPSS, i.e., to analyse dates and ages of events, the intervals between them, the numbers of events, their order and risk of occurrence.
Цель освоения дисциплины

Цель освоения дисциплины

  • To give the students the most important knowledge about time and methods of work with it in the Social Sciences
  • To enrich the scope of concepts and theories which students may use for their academic and practical needs
  • To provide students the experience of the real research work: to let them create research ideas and hypotheses, develop their own methodological approach and achieve visible results
  • To master the qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis of biographical events and other processes developing in time
Результаты освоения дисциплины

Результаты освоения дисциплины

  • to be able to use the core terms and methods of the life-course approach
  • to be able to account for the basic types of data for a correct study of time
  • to be able to apply the generational approach to their practical needs
  • to be able to calculate mean, median and modal ages; the cumulative shares of events by certain ages; the intervals between events; and the risks of events occurring, inter alia
  • to be able to correctly interpret the results of Sequence Analysis and Event History Analysis
  • to be able to critically discuss the limitations of the chosen methods of studying time processes
  • to be able to distinguish different approaches to the transition to adulthood and offer their own
  • to be able to distinguish the effects of age, period and generation
  • to be able to apply acquired knowledge about time to their own projects
  • to have the skill of choosing and applying methods of biographical events analysis
  • to have the skill of conducting their own qualitative or quantitative research
  • to have the skill of the analysis of biographical events in MS Excel and IBM SPSS
  • to know different concepts of the transition to adulthood and approaches to extracting the markers of it
  • to know the life-course approach and its important multidisciplinary role
  • to know the scope of methods of analysis of biographies and distinguish the difference between qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • to know the theory of generations and its practical applications, not only in scientific research but also in business and public administration
  • to know the three dimensions of time: age, period and cohort (and two more dimensions: stage of life and place) and master distinguishing them
Содержание учебной дисциплины

Содержание учебной дисциплины

  • Approaches to time in the Social Sciences
    The first session lays out the course plan and requirements from student participation and introduces the main concepts of time in the Social Sciences, such as: chronological and temporal time; dimensions of time; visualisation of temporal processes.
  • Theory of Generations
    The session discusses and compares different approaches to the concept of generation and cohorts. We analyse the works of K. Mannheim, N. Ryder and others.
  • Age-Period-Cohort method
    The session introduces the Lexis grid and Age-Period-Cohort method (APC). We discuss the importance of place and the stage of life in addition to APC. We practice using APC approach.
  • Life span, life cycle and life course – differences among the approaches
    We study and compare the difference between the concepts of life span, life cycle and life course approaches (LCA). We learn the basic terms of the LCA.
  • Stages of life course. Transition to adulthood as the example of the first major biographical transition
    We critically analyse different classifications of stages of life. We discover the importance of studying the transition to adulthood; the approaches to analysis of this stage of life and existing exploratory concepts.
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis of biographical events
    We study different approaches to the analysis of biographical events. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative and quantitative methods. We discuss the opportunity of mixing these methods.
  • Measures of biographical events
    We study quantitative methods of analysis of biographical events by dividing them into four major groups: quantum, timing, tempo and sequencing.
  • Introduction in Sequence Analysis and Event History Analysis
    We study the advanced methods of analysis of quantitative biographical data and learn how to apply them to real research questions of students.
  • Practice in MS Excel, IBM SPSS and R
    We practice the usage of quantitative methods of analysis in MS Excel, IMB SPSS and R. Students learn how to prepare data; how to create dates, ages and intervals; how to calculate mean, median and modal ages; how to use statistical tests and crosstabs; how to apply Event History Analysis.
  • Conclusion of the course and feedback on research projects
    This session brings all approaches to time in the Social Sciences and is devoted to the discussion of the student’s research projects.
Элементы контроля

Элементы контроля

  • Quiz 1 (неблокирующий)
  • Home task: biographical events (неблокирующий)
  • Class task: Lexis grid practice (неблокирующий)
Промежуточная аттестация

Промежуточная аттестация

  • Промежуточная аттестация (3 модуль)
    The set of quizes at the seminars
Список литературы

Список литературы

Рекомендуемая основная литература

  • SPSS for social scientists, Miller R. L., Acton C., Fullerton D. A., Maltby J., ISBN: 0-333-92286-7, 2002
  • Adolescence and emerging adulthood : a cultural approach, Arnett J. J., Hughes M., ISBN: 978-1-408-25390-8, 2012
  • Adventures in social research : data analysis using SPSS, Babbie E., Halley F., ISBN: 0-8039-9007-3, 1994
  • Cohort analysis, Glenn N. D., ISBN: 0-8039-0794-X, 1977
  • Event history and survival analysis, Allison P. D., ISBN: 978-1-412-99770-6, 2014
  • Families across time : a life course perspective: readings, Price S. J., McKenry P. C., Murphy M. J., ISBN: 978-0-19-532989-6, 2000
  • Modernization, cultural change, and democracy : the human development sequence, Inglehart R., Welzel C., ISBN: 978-0-521-60971-5, 2010
  • Social conceptions of time : structure and process in work and everyday life, Crow G., Heath S., ISBN: 0-333-98499-4, 2002
  • Advances in sequence analysis: theory, methods, applications, Blanchard P., Buhlmann F., Gauthier J.-A., ISBN: 978-3-319-04968-7, 2014
  • The life course : a sociological introduction, Hunt, S. J., ISBN: 9781137521958, 2017
  • The life course reader : individuals and societies across time, Heinz W. R., Huinink J., Weymann A., ISBN: 978-3-593-38805-2, 2009
  • The script of life in modern society : entry into adulthood in a changing world, Buchmann M., ISBN: 978-0-226-07835-9, 1989
  • The sociology of speed : digital, organizational, and social temporalities, Wajcman, J., Dodd, N., ISBN: 9780198782865, 2017
  • The structure of the life course: standardized? Individualized? Differentiated?, Macmillan R., ISBN: 0-7623-1193-2, 2005
  • The turn to biographical methods in social science : comparative issues and examples, Chamberlayne P., Bornat J., Wengraf T., ISBN: 0-415-22838-7, 2000
  • Transitions to adulthood in Europe, Corijn M., Klijzing E., ISBN: 978-0-7923-6965-3, 2001
  • Using biographical methods in social research, Merrill B., West L., ISBN: 978-1-412-92958-5, 2009

Рекомендуемая дополнительная литература

  • Globalization, value change, and generations : a cross-national and intergenerational perspective, Ester P., Braun M., Mohler P., ISBN: 978-90-04-15127-7, 2006
  • Ages, generations and the social contract : the demographic challenges facing the welfare state, Veron J., Pennec S., Legare J., ISBN: 978-1-402-05972-8, 2007
  • Applied survival analysis : regression modelling of time-to-event data, Hosmer D. W., Lemeshow S., May S., ISBN: 978-0-471-75499-2, 2008
  • Childbearing trends and prospects in low-fertility countries : a cohort analysis, Frejka T., Sardon J.-P., ISBN: 978-1-402-02457-3, 2004
  • Education and the family : passing success across the generations, Feinstein L., Duckworth K., Sabates R., ISBN: 978-0-415-39637-0, 2008
  • Families, ageing and social policy : intergenerational solidarity in European welfare states, Saraceno C., ISBN: 978-1-84720-648-0, 2008
  • Genders in the life course : demographic issues, Pinnelli A., Racioppi F., Rettaroli R., ISBN: 978-1-402-06001-4, 2007
  • Generations and collective memory, Corning A., Schuman H., ISBN: 978-0-226-28266-4, 2015
  • An introduction to R : a programming environment for data analysis and graphics, Venables W. N., Smith D. M., ISBN: 978-0-9546120-8-5, 2009
  • Handbook of the life course, Mortimer J. T., Shanahan M. J., ISBN: 978-0-387-32457-9, 2006
  • Interpreting quantitative data : with IBM SPSS statistics, Antonius R., ISBN: 978-1-446-20743-7, 2013
  • InterViews : an introduction to qualitative research interviewing, Kvale S., ISBN: 0-8039-5820-X, 1996
  • Population aging, intergenerational transfers and the macroeconomy, Clark R., Ogawa N., Mason A., ISBN: 978-1-84720-099-0, 2007
  • Qualitative research interviewing : biographic narrative and semi-structured methods, Wengraf T., ISBN: 0-8039-7501-5, 2001
  • Understanding the life course : sociological and psychological perspectives, Green, L., ISBN: 9780745697932, 2017
  • Work, family policies and transitions to adulthood in Europe, Knijn T., ISBN: 978-0-230-30025-5, 2012