chapter  8
212 Pages

Leading a Contingent Life

ByGlen H. Elder

A life style dependent on marriage and the husband's career: these are features of a woman's contingent life. The chapter provides an overview of major events and patterns in the life course of all women, with emphasis on their historical context. It compares the effects of family deprivation and class origin on three critical events in the life course of women-the timing of marriage, educational attainment, and marital choice with its consequences for adult status. The chapter takes up adult values and social roles, their relation to family deprivation in differing social contexts, and adolescent experiences which link deprivation to adult priorities. The centrality of family life to these "children of the Depression" may express the wish to undo the "psychic disruptions" of Depression and war, as one member of this generation put it; "to achieve the serenity that has eluded the lives of our parents.".