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Theorizing in Family Gerontology: New Opportunities for Research and Practice

Authors

  • Karen A. Roberto,

    Corresponding author
      *Karen A. Roberto is Director of the Center for Gerontology and Professor of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (kroberto@vt.edu).
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  • Rosemary Blieszner,

    Corresponding author
      Rosemary Blieszner is Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Associate Director of the Center for Gerontology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (rmb@vt.edu).
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  • Katherine R. Allen

    Corresponding author
      Katherine R. Allen is Professor of Human Development and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Gerontology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (kallen@vt.edu).
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*Karen A. Roberto is Director of the Center for Gerontology and Professor of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (kroberto@vt.edu).

Rosemary Blieszner is Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Associate Director of the Center for Gerontology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (rmb@vt.edu).

Katherine R. Allen is Professor of Human Development and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Gerontology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (kallen@vt.edu).

Abstract

Abstract: We examine the extent to which theory has been used in empirical studies of families in later life, identify prevalent types of theoretical frameworks, and assess connections between theory and both focal topics and analytic methods in the family gerontology literature. The paper is based on content and methodological analysis of 838 empirical articles with a family-level focus published in 13 social science journals during the 1990s. Approximately one half of the articles included theory, with micro-interpretive (social psychological) theories being used most often to guide and inform research and practice. To advance the field and understand better the intricacies of family life among older adults, we suggest that investigators and practitioners explicitly incorporate theoretical frameworks into their endeavors.

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