Conceptual and empirical precursors of contemporary social development research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter aims to consider how conceptual and investigative trends over the past half-century shaped the theoretical and investigative agendas that drive contemporary research on social development. This historical analysis begins by briefly examining some of the ideological and empirical foundations of the modern era. Social developmental phenomena are complex and multiply determined and, as a result, empirically based knowledge has been built around circumscribed phenomena. Nevertheless, four overarching aims can be identified that capture the thrust and scope of empirical inquiry during the discipline's recent history. Each of these broader objectives is profiled and a few illustrative trends, findings, and citations are highlighted from research on early and middle childhood. Foremost among the factors that precipitated transformations in social development research over the past 50 years were innovations in developmental theory, the emergence of pressing sociocultural issues and public health crises, and advances in scientific research methods and analytic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Social Development
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)9781119679028
StatePublished - Mar 18 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental theory
  • Early childhood
  • Middle childhood
  • Public health crises
  • Scientific research methods
  • Social development research
  • Sociocultural issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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