Editorial: Turning Points – Changes in Disadvantaged Life Trajectories

Maren Zeller

Abstract

The various ages of life, particularly childhood and youth, have long been focal points of social work research and practice (Hanses, Homfeldt & Schulze-Krüdener, 2008). Yet only in the last two decades has the importance of transition processes in life trajectories been recognized in social work (see for instance the handbook by Schröer et al., 2013). This new vantage point of transition research covers research both on sociological and psychological life course theories and on anthropological insights into the meaning of “rites de passage” for individuals, communities, and society. Transition processes between different life stages and between different institutions of education, social services, etc. are a challenge for individuals, since social expectations, environments, and reference points are changing dramatically. Therefore, social support (both informal and formal) is considered to be an important feature and starting point for social work. However, one aspect that is not well recognized and researched is the forms of change in life trajectories which are subsumed under the term “turning points” (Gilligan, 2010). This is all the more astonishing since the concept of “turning points” was introduced at the same time as the prevailing notions of trajectories and transitions.

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