Life Course as a Policy Lens: Challenges and Opportunities
This set of research studies on the life course as a policy lens springs from research and discussions over more than a year and a half among academic researchers and policy analysts. The six empirical studies in this special issue all rely on the life-course perspective to extend the reach of the perspective into areas with policy relevance that have not been examined previously with a life-course lens. The studies examine aboriginal health, social participation, housing instability and evictions, earnings trajectories, and late-life transitions. Key conclusions overall from the project are that (1) Canada may have an early lead in conceptual thinking on life course as a policy lens, giving us the momentum to push this advantage further; (2) the life-course perspective focuses less on individual trajectories and more on the ongoing interactions of individuals with social structures, particularly structures of inequality and life-course scripts; (3) the conceptualization of the life course as a tale of path dependency, gravity, and shocks focuses attention on social circumstances rather than on individual choices; (4) a life-course perspective for policy-makers is more realistic, more attuned to the reality experienced by social actors, and social actors accordingly recognize themselves in policies; and (5) the life-course perspective offers the possibility of making social actors, researchers, and policy-makers work more in tandem.
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Volume (Year): 37 (2011)
Issue (Month): s1 (February)
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