Review: Thomas Kühn (2004). Berufsbiografie und Familiengründung. Biografiegestaltung junger Erwachsener nach Abschluss der Berufsausbildung [Vocational Biography and Family Planning: The Shaping of the Biographies of Young Adults After Vocational Training]

Stefanie Große


Thomas KÜHN deals in this book, which represents the publication of his thesis, with the orientations and action strategies of young adults in dealing with work history and starting a family under conditions of social change. He analyses the relevance of family planning in our understanding of increasing childlessness and the stabilization of traditional gender relations in the course of starting a family. On the basis of problem-centred interviews conducted using guidelines oriented to grounded theory, KÜHN develops a typology of biographic plans for family foundation (BPF) that shows how young adults anticipate and plan the transition to parenthood. In order to take a more general perspective this typology is combined with the typology of "modes of biographical agency" (BGM) that was developed in the Sfb 186 of the University of Bremen. The results make clear that, five years after the completion of their vocational training, a large number of young adults have no concrete plans to start a family but do have a persistent desire for children. This shows that for young women and men insecurity and ambivalences present problems connected to starting a family that hinder a realization of their wish to be parents. For instance, planning insecurity increases if both partners want to pursue professional careers and at the same time have high expectations in terms of the parental role. The author approaches the leading research question in a number of theoretical steps. He first discusses the state of research about the configuration of the occupational biography, the development of a biographic planning concept, and work history and family planning with young adults. After that KÜHN develops his own methodical concepts, using a computer-aided coding of the data material to work out the typology of the BPF. Altogether the book leaves a very mixed impression: its strengths lie in the longitudinal perspective of the study and the ambitious methodical design. Furthermore, the innovative attempts to connect the areas of occupation and family with a male perspective are to be appreciated. The weaknesses of the study lie in the lack of clarity of the presentation, the occasionally incomprehensible interpretations and the lack of consideration of structural influences.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs050230


transitional research; longitudinal study; family planning; grounded theory; qualitative data base; typologies

Copyright (c) 2005 Stefanie Große

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