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Isaiah Jones
Isaiah Jones

The Life Course, Social Change And The Chicago ...

Men of the AIDS-2 Generation likely benefitted from knowledge about effective HIV prevention as well as the emergence of highly effective treatments (i.e., protease inhibitors) as they entered young adulthood. Compared to members of the AIDS-1 Generation, these men may have been less likely to lose partners and social networks to the disease. In addition, men of this generation experienced adolescence and emerging adulthood at a time in which the cultural discourse shifted away from pathologizing and demonizing homosexuality toward embracing gay identity as a legitimate and immutable trait (e.g., LeVay, 1996). By the 1990s, health and mental health professionals had established a consensus that encouraged gay men to accept, rather than to attempt to change, their identities (Hammack et al., 2013). Hence, members of this generation benefitted from a new cultural narrative of homosexuality as a legitimate expression of human diversity.

The Life Course, Social Change and the Chicago ...

Our focus was on defining generation-cohorts of gay men given their shared identity and participation in a common community. Research is needed to apply a life course perspective to understand social and historical influences on health and identity development among not only gay men but also other sexual minority groups who have related but distinct sexual identities. Such groups include bisexual and other men who have sex with men, sexual minorities whose lives may have been less defined by HIV/AIDS (e.g., lesbian and bisexual women), transgender people, and newly emerging identity groups such as queer-identified individuals. Because gay and other men who have sex with men have experienced a unique health calamity (i.e., the AIDS epidemic) in recent history (Halkitis, 2014), we believe a life course framework focused distinctly on this segment of the sexual minority community is warranted.

The life course approach is best described as a paradigm for theory development and empirical inquiry on human development (Elder, 1998; Hammack, 2005). The core principles of this paradigm center on the significance of historical time and place and timing in lives, so the paradigm calls attention to the significance of social context and its intersection with distinct life course moments (e.g., puberty, early adulthood) to influence developmental trajectories. We expect the paradigm to have universal relevance in its core principles, but, obviously, there can be no uniformity in its application across cultural settings (Shweder & Sullivan, 1993), since cohort-defining events always occur in a particular cultural context and may be broadly related to social and political issues that are not necessarily focused on sexual minorities (e.g., the end of Apartheid in South Africa might be a cohort-defining event for gay men there, since it ushered in a new cultural attitude toward diversity in general). We hope that researchers who study sexual and gender identity diversity in other cultural settings will adapt a life course paradigm for use in those settings.

Professor Sampson's current work focuses on crime, punishment, and social change over the life course. In addition to articles in progress, he is writing a book on a long-term follow-up of over 1,000 children originally selected for the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. For one article on this project see

Cosponsored with Division L - Educational Policies and PoliticsDespite the growing importance of schooling attainment and achievement for labor market success, high school graduation rates have not changed much over the past 40 years and inequality in achievement test scores by income seems to have increased. This session presents the results of a portfolio of randomized experiments from the city of Chicago that address intervention strategies related to educational challenges targeted at different stages of a child's life course and to students at different predicted risks of school failure. Link to session 041b061a72


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