Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Dynamics of Life-Course Transitions: A Methodological Reflection

Zittoun, Tania

In: Dynamic Process Methodology in the Social and Developmental Sciences, 2009, vol. 18, p. 405-429

The French movie “Life Is a Long Quiet River” (« La vie est un long fleuve tranquille », Chatiliez, 1988) compares the fates of two children, born in contrasting social classes and exchanged at birth, and plays with the unpredictable curves and bends of their developmental histories, which eventually bring them to acquire the skills and knowledge that they might have acquired in their... Plus

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    Summary
    The French movie “Life Is a Long Quiet River” (« La vie est un long fleuve tranquille », Chatiliez, 1988) compares the fates of two children, born in contrasting social classes and exchanged at birth, and plays with the unpredictable curves and bends of their developmental histories, which eventually bring them to acquire the skills and knowledge that they might have acquired in their original milieu. The ironic title strongly suggests that life is not a long quite river, and illustrates two long-time known principles of development. It shows that the development of a child or a person is not linear, and cannot be predicted; it also shows that many different ways can lead a person to develop a given skill or understanding (Vygotsky, 1929/1993). Admitting these principles has consequences for the study of human development: life-courses appear characterized not only by the regular and progressive establishment of regularities and continuities, but also, and mainly, by the moments in which these continuities are interrupted, reoriented, or challenged.