Turning Points and Life Transitions

People often use redemption or contamination imagery to depict significant life transitions or turning-point scenes in their life stories. The concept of a turning point is both literary and psychological, and it has enjoyed strong currency in Western cultural life for hundreds of years. Social scientists have recently employed qualitative and narrative methods for examining the turning points that people describe in their lives. Some of the best research on narrative approaches to turning points comes together in a book edited by Dan McAdams, Ruthellen Josselson (Hebrew University and The Fielding Institute), and Amia Lieblich (Hebrew University), Turns in the Road: Narrative Studies of Lives in Transition (APA Press, 2001). This book is the first in a Foley-sponsored book series on "The Narrative Study of Lives."

Led by former Foley postdoctoral fellow Jack Bauer, researchers at the Foley Center are exploring turning points and life transitions as they reveal themselves in stories of (1) religious development (e.g., conversion narratives) and (2) career changes. Building on his earlier research on adults’ construction of bereavement narratives, Bauer has launched an intensive qualitative examination of how adults narrate significant ideological and career turns in their lives.

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