Often when development is discussed, it is within the context of a particular developmental stage. For example, one might talk about attachment in infancy, peer relationships in adolescence, or vocational development in emerging adulthood. However, it is also important to take a lifespan perspective of development, which brings to focus the fact that development occurs from infancy through adulthood. Paul Baltes put forward the Lifespan Perspective, which is a guiding framework for the entire study of human development. The Lifespan Perspective has several tenets, including that development is multidimensional, multidirectional, plastic, and affected by multiple interacting forces. Its hallmark is that development is lifelong (Baltes, Lindenburger, & Staudinger, 2006).
Your Assignment this week is focused on family influences on social and emotional development throughout the lifespan. For this assignment, you will watch the film 56 Up, an installment in a series of documentary films that follows several children from 1964 until the present day.
In 1964, noted British director Michael Apted was a young researcher on the experimental documentary series World in Action for a program called Seven Up!, produced for England’s Granada Television. Taking its cue from the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” the film focused on 7-year-olds from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. By asking 14 children about their lives and their hopes and fears for the future, the filmmakers aimed to explore contemporary English attitudes, especially regarding the class system, as expressed by children. By following the youngsters as they progressed through life, the Up series looked to test the strength of that system and the truth of the Jesuit saying. Was the adult already visible in the 7-year-old?
After Seven Up!, Apted took the series’ directorial helm, and over a half-century since, he has returned every seven years to ask the same subjects to talk about how they see their lives. The result has been a unique, inspired, and always surprising chronicle of lives in the making. In 56 Up, Apted finds the “kids” have mostly weathered the marital, parental, and career tumults of middle age with remarkable aplomb, even as they begin facing the challenges of aging, illness, and economic crises.
From cab driver Tony to schoolmates Jackie, Lynn, and Susan to the heartbreaking Neil, more life-changing decisions and surprising developments are revealed as the participants turn 56. Apted employs a telescopic method when presenting his subjects, cutting back and forth between the present time of 56 Up and clips from earlier installments to create portraits in motion. For veteran viewers of the series, this is rich cinematic fabric. Apted quickly and dramatically brings up to speed anyone who hasn’t seen some or all of the previous films.
For this Assignment, you watch this documentary and examine the social and emotional development of two individuals from ages 7 to 56.
· Watch the film 56 Up. (It is approximately 2.5 hours long.)
· Select two individuals from the film to use for this Assignment.
· Examine how family context impacted social/emotional development of the individuals in the videos throughout their lifespan.
The Assignment (3–4 pages)
· Briefly identify the two individuals you selected.
· Discuss the individuals’ social and emotional development throughout the lifespan. In what ways was their development similar and different? Explain ways you see their family relationships and socioeconomic factors impacting social and emotional development throughout their lives. Include a discussion of the individuals’ family of origin (i.e., the family they were born into, including parents, siblings) as well as their family of procreation (i.e., the family they created with respect to spouses, children, etc.).
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