Social Research Methods and Research Practices > Qualitative Methods

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Leadership research has always recognised the importance of childhood factors for the occupation of formal or informal leader positions later in life. Still, empirical research in the field has mainly been based on retrospective accounts from selective and small samples. Such research has also concentrated on individual traits and experiences, less on characteristics of the family. Our aim is to fill this void by prospectively examining the role of the family of origin on educational attainment and holding a managerial position in adulthood. Analyses were based on the Stockholm Multigenerational Study, including register and survey data, regarding 3,088 males born between 1950 and 1976 and their mothers’ attitudes to education and child-rearing in the late 1960s. Our results showed a significant effect of family socio-economic status (SES) on managerial role occupancy in late adulthood. This effect was mainly mediated through educational level. However, a noteworthy share of the total effect of family SES was channelled through maternal attitudes towards education. Positive attitudes towards education in the home environment accounted for an equally large share of the total indirect effect of family SES as the offspring’s cognitive capacity did. Authoritarian attitudes to child-rearing among mothers were also found to have a negative impact on cognitive capacity and educational level – two well-known antecedents to leader emergence. Parental attitudes may boost or modify structural characteristics and individual traits associated with holding formal leader roles such as a managerial position – but also showed an independent effect several decades later.

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Spain is one of the eight EU-27 countries that failed to reduce early school leaving (ESL) below 10% in 2020, and now faces the challenge of achieving a rate below 9% by 2030. The determinants of this phenomenon are usually studied using cross-sectional data at the micro level and without differentiation by gender. In this study, we analyse it for the first time for Spain using panel data (between 2002 and 2020), taking into account the high regional inequalities at the macroeconomic level and the masculinisation of the phenomenon. The results show a positive relationship between ESL and socio-economic variables such as the adolescent fertility rate, immigration, unemployment or the weight of the industrial and construction sectors in the regional economy, with significant gender differences that invite us to discuss educational policies. Surprisingly, youth unemployment has only small but significant impact on female ESL.

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While a vast number of studies confirm the transmission of labour-market disadvantages from one generation to the next, less is known about how parents’ interconnected labour-market pathways co-evolve and shape the opportunities and obstacles for their children’s future careers. This study uses a multidimensional view of intergenerational transmission by describing the most typical pathways of parents’ occupational careers and assesses how these patterns are associated with their children’s labour-market outcomes. Drawing on Swedish longitudinal register data, we used multichannel sequence analysis to follow a cohort of people born in 1985 (n = 72,409) and their parents across 26 years. We identified four parental earning models, differentiating between (1) dual earners with high wages, (2) dual earners with low-wage, (3) one-and-a-half-earners and (4) mother as the main breadwinner. Regression analysis shows strong intergenerational transmission among the most advantageous trajectories, with education as a key determinant for young people to become less dependent on family resources. This study stresses the importance of intra-couple perspectives in life course research to understand how inequalities are shaped and preserved across generations.

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This paper undertakes an analysis and discussion of the methodological challenges and insights derived from three longitudinal qualitative studies, all conducted in Chile during the COVID-19 pandemic and subject to comprehensive theoretical-methodological reflection processes centred on their respective designs. This analysis makes a significant contribution to interdisciplinary discussions within social research, with a particular emphasis on longitudinal trajectories.

First, we present a comparative analysis of three studies in social work, utilising Saldaña’s questions addressing changes and learning in longitudinal studies. The first study explores the labour trajectories of researchers, the second focuses on the educational trajectories of students, and the last examines therapeutic alliance trajectories between social workers and families within the child protection system.

Following this, we delve into the methodological decisions made by the research group during the execution of these longitudinal studies. This encompasses an examination of participant involvement, temporal definitions of the adopted designs, and the most suitable methodological tools for analysing change processes over time. The outcomes of this comparative analysis reveal the distinctive characteristics of the three longitudinal studies, providing insights into how the time dimension is explored within them. We highlight key criteria essential for consideration in longitudinal qualitative research, particularly regarding participants and methodology.

In conclusion, we advocate for an expanded reflection within the realm of longitudinal qualitative methodology, encompassing aspects such as design choices, approaches to data analysis, integration of technology in information processing, and strategies for maintaining participant engagement.

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The present text builds on an earlier publication* which had the same aim: namely, to encourage clarity and coherence in the interdisciplinary area we called social-to-biological transitions. This burgeoning area of research involves a complex workforce with differing career levels and disciplinary traditions, reflecting which the present authors comment from different perspectives (one author from each of early career research, epidemiology, biology and public health) and invite debate. (* Blane, D., Kelly-Irving, M., d’Errico, A., Bartley, M. and Montgomery, S. (2013) Social-biological transitions: how does the social become biological?, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 4(2): 136–46.)

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