The life course approach, also known as the life course perspective, or life course theory, refers to an approach developed in the 1960s for analyzing people's lives within structural, social, and cultural contexts. Origins of this approach can be traced to pioneering studies such as Thomas's and Znaniecki's "The Polish Peasant in Europe and America" from the 1920s or Mannheim's essay on the "Problem of generations".
The life course approach examines an individual's life history and sees for example how early events influence future decisions and events, giving particular attention to the connection between individuals and the historical and socioeconomic context in which they have lived. It holds that the events and roles that are part of the person's life course do not necessarily proceed in a given sequence, but rather constitute the sum total of the person's actual experience.
In a more general reading, human life is seen as often divided into various age spans such as infancy, toddler, childhood, adolescence, young adult, prime adulthood, middle age, and old age . These divisions are somewhat arbitrary, but generally capture periods of life that reflect a certain degree of similarity in development across cultures.
This man is well into his later years and depicts life in its final stages.
In many countries, such as Sweden and the United States, adulthood legally begins at the age of eighteen. This is a major age milestone that is marked by significantly different attitudes toward the person who undergoes the transition. This is an example that demonstrates the influence of developmental stages on legal determinations of life stages, and thus, attitudes towards people at different stages of the human life course.
This picture depicts an individual at the earliest of life stages.