Life is anything but static

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Tony Robertson University of Stirling, UK

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As I move about my day-to-day, dealing with the small and big deadlines, requests, pressures and, at times, leisure and relaxation opportunities, I, like many others, find it hard to detach from the ongoing atrocities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Gaza and the West Bank), Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, alongside other conflicts around the world. In addition, there are the hardships closer to home many are dealing with, from the ‘Cost-of-Living Crisis’, increasingly exclusionary policies and approaches to migrants and refugees, and crackdowns on voices of dissent. It can all feel overwhelming and hopeless. But then there are the small and big acts of joy, kindness, silliness, friendship and love that puncture your day and change those feelings. This then combines with the positivity from seeing the collective action taking place on university campuses by students who recognise the need to raise difficult questions, challenge the status quo and create positive change. The research published by LLCS also shows this dichotomy. We typically look back at the factors that have predicted negative outcomes in people’s lives that can be concerning. However, other studies focus on the positive implications and of course, many consider both. Regardless though, we typically look back across people’s lives to learn for current and future generations rather than just navel gaze at the harms our societies can create. It is vital that we continue to explore the uncomfortable and upsetting aspects of people’s lives across generations to help create a better world. So please take the time, when you have it, to read this issue’s six articles that span the great work our journal is promoting and that the Society for Longitudinal and Life course Studies (SLLS) is doing to make those positives a reality for as many people as possible.

This issue we kick off with Pensiero and colleagues examining inequalities between UK children doing remote schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic during school closure periods (Pensiero et al, 2024). They find that remote schoolwork during this period was associated with parental social class, computer availability and parental working patterns, including an interactive effect of the three factors. Moving up the years slightly, Martín-González et al then present findings from Spain about early school leavers (individuals aged 18–24 with only lower secondary education or less and who are not in education or training) (Martín-González et al, 2024). Using panel data from 2002 to 2020, they find that several social, demographic and economic markers predict early school leaving, including individual (gender) as well as regional (regional economy) factors.

Our third article tackles how parents’ interconnected labour-market pathways co-evolve and shape the opportunities and obstacles for their children’s future careers in Sweden (Brydsten and Kalucza, 2024). They find evidence among longitudinal registry data for strong intergenerational transmission among the most advantageous trajectories (dual earners with high wages), with education as a key determinant for young people to become less dependent on family resources. Staying with Scandinavian register data, our next article moves to Denmark and this time explores the predictors of suicide attempts in 15–29-year-olds across six birth cohorts (Christoffersen and Khan, 2024). Lifetime prevalence of a first-time suicide attempt across these cohorts was found to be 4.5%. Factors such as family background, psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders and being the victim of violence or sex offences increased the risk of attempted suicide. Contrary to the prevention paradox, Christoffersen and Khan’s results suggest that it is possible to identify a discrete, high-risk group among the population, although one third of all first-time suicide attempts were among the lower risk groups.

More register data appears in our fifth article, but this time from Serbia and explores cause of death data and its measurement quality as Serbia has reformed its health system, including the recording of such data (Apostolović et al, 2024). The research team behind the article find that data quality has indeed improved since 2005, both in terms of increasing higher-quality records and reducing the lowest-quality records. However, there remain inequalities in recording linked to socio-economic circumstances of the deceased individuals. Last but not least, de-Toro and colleagues from Chile revisit longitudinal qualitative studies (de-Toro et al, 2024). It is great to see an article focusing on longitudinal, qualitative data, a topic explored in detail in the LLCS Special Issue on Prospective Qualitative Research: New Directions, Opportunities and Challenges, published in January 2021 (Bernardi and Sánchez-Mira, 2021; Dwyer and Patrick, 2021; Hollstein, 2021; Legewie and Tucci, 2021; Sánchez-Mira and Bernardi, 2021; Vogl and Zartler, 2021). In this latest contribution, de-Toro and colleagues utilise data from three studies with data on labour, education and therapeutic alliance trajectories. The results of this comparative analysis highlight the unique characteristics of the three longitudinal studies, offering insights into how each study approaches the time element and they pose key questions for future work around recruiting and retaining participants and the research design and methodologies employed.

Funding

The author received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  • Apostolović, M.A., Stojanović, M., Bogdanović, D., Apostolović, B., Milošević, Z. and Ignjatović, A. (2024) The trend of the quality of cause-of-death data and its association with socio-economic indicators in Serbia in the period 2005–19, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 394406. doi: 10.1332/17579597Y2024D000000014

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  • Bernardi, L. and Sánchez-Mira, N. (2021) Introduction to the special issue: prospective qualitative research: new directions, opportunities and challenges, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 35. doi: 10.1332/175795920x16032960406152

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  • Brydsten, A. and Kalucza, S. (2024) Linked lives: intergenerational transmission of labour-market pathways between parent dyads and children, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 34870. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000021

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  • Christoffersen, M.N. and Khan, L. (2024) Can life events predict first-time suicide attempts? A nationwide longitudinal study, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 37193. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000020

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    • Export Citation
  • de-Toro, X., Rubilar, G. and Saracostti, M. (2024) Revisiting longitudinal qualitative studies in social work: considerations for design and methodological insights, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 40730. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000022

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  • Dwyer, P. and Patrick, R. (2021) Little and large: methodological reflections from two qualitative longitudinal policy studies on welfare conditionality, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 6381. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15913557982929

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hollstein, B. (2021) Promises and pitfalls of qualitative longitudinal research, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 717. doi: 10.1332/175795920x16040851984946

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Legewie, N.M. and Tucci, I. (2021) Studying turning points in labour market trajectories – benefits of a panel-based mixed methods design, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 4162. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15949756176915

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    • Export Citation
  • Martín-González, M., González-Betancor, S.M. and Pérez-Esparrells, C. (2024) Early school leaving in Spain: a longitudinal analysis by gender, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 32247. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000023

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    • Export Citation
  • Pensiero, N., Kelly, A. and Bokhove, C. (2024) Socio-economic differences in remote schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic: a trend analysis of the 2020 and 2021 school-closure periods using the UK Understanding Society data, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 286321. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000012

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    • Export Citation
  • Sánchez-Mira, N. and Bernardi, L. (2021) Relative time and life course research, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 1940. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15918713165305

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vogl, S. and Zartler, U. (2021) Interviewing adolescents through time: balancing continuity and flexibility in a qualitative longitudinal study, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 8397. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15986464938219

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Apostolović, M.A., Stojanović, M., Bogdanović, D., Apostolović, B., Milošević, Z. and Ignjatović, A. (2024) The trend of the quality of cause-of-death data and its association with socio-economic indicators in Serbia in the period 2005–19, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 394406. doi: 10.1332/17579597Y2024D000000014

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bernardi, L. and Sánchez-Mira, N. (2021) Introduction to the special issue: prospective qualitative research: new directions, opportunities and challenges, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 35. doi: 10.1332/175795920x16032960406152

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brydsten, A. and Kalucza, S. (2024) Linked lives: intergenerational transmission of labour-market pathways between parent dyads and children, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 34870. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000021

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christoffersen, M.N. and Khan, L. (2024) Can life events predict first-time suicide attempts? A nationwide longitudinal study, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 37193. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000020

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • de-Toro, X., Rubilar, G. and Saracostti, M. (2024) Revisiting longitudinal qualitative studies in social work: considerations for design and methodological insights, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 40730. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000022

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dwyer, P. and Patrick, R. (2021) Little and large: methodological reflections from two qualitative longitudinal policy studies on welfare conditionality, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 6381. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15913557982929

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hollstein, B. (2021) Promises and pitfalls of qualitative longitudinal research, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 717. doi: 10.1332/175795920x16040851984946

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Legewie, N.M. and Tucci, I. (2021) Studying turning points in labour market trajectories – benefits of a panel-based mixed methods design, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 4162. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15949756176915

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martín-González, M., González-Betancor, S.M. and Pérez-Esparrells, C. (2024) Early school leaving in Spain: a longitudinal analysis by gender, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 32247. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000023

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pensiero, N., Kelly, A. and Bokhove, C. (2024) Socio-economic differences in remote schoolwork during the COVID-19 pandemic: a trend analysis of the 2020 and 2021 school-closure periods using the UK Understanding Society data, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 15(3): 286321. doi: 10.1332/17579597y2024d000000012

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sánchez-Mira, N. and Bernardi, L. (2021) Relative time and life course research, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 1940. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15918713165305

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vogl, S. and Zartler, U. (2021) Interviewing adolescents through time: balancing continuity and flexibility in a qualitative longitudinal study, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 12(1): 8397. doi: 10.1332/175795920x15986464938219

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Tony Robertson University of Stirling, UK

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