chapter  1
383 Pages

The Depression Experience

ByGlen H. Elder

This chapter presents a study of the Depression experience in the lives of some Americans who were born in 1920–21 and in the lives of their parents. But it is more broadly concerned with the implications of drastic socioeconomic change for family change and intergenerational relations. In the realm of social change, the study is defined by its focus on actual families and individuals in concrete situations, as compared with the analysis of abstract social systems and structures. The study relies most heavily upon five concepts: economic deprivation, crisis or problem situation, adaptation, linkage, and cohort. The authors’ comparison of birth cohorts will utilize the concepts of crisis, adaptation, and linkage in an effort to assess and interpret the effects of economic deprivation. Research from the Depression era does not include a single study which satisfactorily incorporates the above features, and even the available demographic data on socioeconomic conditions are deficient by contemporary standards.