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The Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and Family Change

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland. 2001. "The Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways, and Family Change." PSC Research Report No. 01-480. July 2001.

This paper explains how the developmental paradigm, reading history sideways, and cross-cultural data converged to have an overwhelming influence on social scientists and ordinary people. Through the use of these tools social scientists of the 1700s and 1800s concluded that there had been many substantial changes in family patterns in northwest Europe before the early 1800s. These conclusions were accepted until the last several decades of the 1900s when almost all of them were seriously challenged, with many declared to be myths. The developmental paradigm, reading history sideways, and the conclusions of generations of social scientists were also transformed into a package of ideas-developmental idealism-that subsequently became a powerful influence for family change. This developmental idealism has been a substantial force for changing living arrangements, marriage, divorce, gender relations, intergenerational relationships, and fertility behavior in many parts of the world during the past two centuries. [Print version available. Order online.]

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