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J Res Adolesc. 2011 Mar 1;21(1):273-280.

Insights on Adolescence from A Life Course Perspective.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4020.


In this essay, we argue that viewing adolescence within the full life course will improve our understanding of both adolescence itself and the life course more generally. Such an approach makes explicit how adolescence is linked to developmental processes in the years both before and after adolescence in ways that are shaped by broader patterns of social change. We highlight insights from research over the past decade that illustrate the kinds of life course questions about adolescence that need to be posed in the next decade, focusing on connections between adolescence and the two life stages that border it: childhood and young adulthood. Although life course themes cut across the many different topics that adolescence scholars typically study, we draw our examples from three specific substantive areas-educational success, puberty, and problem behavior.

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