by Phyllis Moen
This paper describes the utility of applying a life course approach to analysis of theentrepreneurial family. A life course viewhighlights the dynamic processes of development and change over the life span,as well as the importance ofthe social contexts of families, businesses, and lives. Both the life course (Elder, 1992, 1995) and ecology of human development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Moen et al., 1995) paradigms underscore the social forces that shape employment–such as starting, stopping, or expanding a business–and their economic, social, and psychological consequences.
A life course perspective challenges traditional ways of investigating the interplay between work and family.For example, instead of considering snap-shots of family businesses at any one point in time, a life course approach focuses on pathways, considering roletransitions, trajectories, and turning points in lives–and family businesses–over time. The life course reflects the interweave ofwork, family, and community roletrajectories that change in conjunction with age,as well as with changing circumstances and options. Thus, an individual life can be characterized as a series of interrelated trajectories through both occupational and family “careers.”In fact, one useful way of depicting the life course is as a series of movements in and out of various roles (Elder, 1992, 1995). More…