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Biography and turning points in Europe and America$
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Karla B. Hackstaff and Feiwel Kupferberg

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428608

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428608.001.0001

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date: 24 August 2017

Biographical structuring through a critical life event: parental loss during childhood

Biographical structuring through a critical life event: parental loss during childhood

Chapter:
(p.125) Five Biographical structuring through a critical life event: parental loss during childhood
Source:
Biography and turning points in Europe and America
Author(s):

Gerhard Jost

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847428608.003.0006

Jost analyses how children cope with the loss of a parent during childhood and its lifelong consequences, as seen in the structuring of life stories. Jost argues that if we examine life events as experienced during childhood, then we can contribute to a better understanding of "turning points" since children have a different range of action and have a sense of time more protracted than adults. His analysis of three case studies is drawn from interviews that were conducted in Germany with 35- to 48-year-olds who had lost their father or mother between the ages of 0 and 14. He finds that a critical life event like parental loss offers extensive, but not exclusive, potential for structuring the concerned person's life story; in some life stories, it is an essential turning point, while in other life stories, other events play an equally important role. As life proceeds, new events can evoke the earlier turning points in both positive and painful ways.

Keywords:   Biography, turning points, life stories, children, parental loss in childhood, life events, Germany

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