Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

How plans change: Anticipation, interferences and unpredictabilities

Abstract : The purpose of this article is to examine the way in which individuals consider their futures, what happens to these anticipations over time and where the unpredictabilities that disrupt the realization of these expectations are located. These reflections are based on a qualitative longitudinal survey conducted over 20 years (1995-2015) with six waves, among a panel of young people entering adult life in Normandy (France). I propose to explore empirically why their anticipations frequently remain unrealized and what factors intervened in a predictable or unpredictable way and diverted the life course from what had been anticipated. We will then see that these changes are due mainly to the interdependencies between the different levels and domains of life and to the effects of time which produces synchronizations, shifts and coincidences between these levels and domains. The interdependencies apply not only to lives following their course, but also to the turning points that brought them to change direction. It becomes crucial to take into consideration theoretically and empirically the disruptions that occur over the life course rather than considering individuals’ lives as following simple linear trajectories. The analysis of turning points highlights the relevant elements of the life course, the decisive factors and the changes in priority, which are made more conscious and explicit by the respondents than in more stable sequences. A life course theory must integrate these unpredictabilities, interferences and reorientations which are part of the complex processes at stake.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Claire Bidart <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 6:24:07 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 10:09:48 AM




Claire Bidart. How plans change: Anticipation, interferences and unpredictabilities. Advances in Life Course Research, Elsevier, 2019, Theoretical and Methodological Frontiers in Life Course Research, 41, ⟨10.1016/j.alcr.2018.10.007⟩. ⟨halshs-01930336⟩



Record views