Life course research allows studying issues such as social inequality, social status attainment, education, migration, family formation, or gender as processes that involve continuity and change. Turning points are a key concept in this research field because they can help understand processes of overhaul and stability in life courses. In general terms, turnings points describe phases in which a person’s life changes directions fundamentally. Despite their prominent role in life course research, concrete conceptualizations of turning points in the literature vary and are often fuzzy. We suggest developing an analytic definition of turning points that captures core characteristics and helps analyzing turning points with either quantitative or qualitative analysis. To do so, we use a mixed methods data set comprised of SOEP data and qualitative in-depth interviews with SOEP participants. We employ qualitative case analysis to construct a thick concept of turning points in status attainment trajectories and use cluster analysis of SOEP data to explore whether our concept of turning points reflects meaningful groupings in the SOEP data. In Wednesday's Brown Bag Seminar, we will give an overview of our work in progress and (hopefully) present first results from the cluster analysis.
Joint work with with Prof. Dr. Olaf Groh-Samberg (University of Bremen, SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy) and (Junior) Prof. Dr. Ingrid Tucci (Laboratoire d’Economie et de Sociologie du Travail, CNRS - Aix-Marseille Université).