UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Families, Social Mobility and Ageing, an Intergenerational Approach, 1900-1988

Title details

SN: 4938
Title: Families, Social Mobility and Ageing, an Intergenerational Approach, 1900-1988
Alternative title: 100 Families
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-4938-1
Depositor: Thompson, P., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Principal investigator(s): Thompson, P., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Newby, H., University of Essex. Department of Sociology
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Grant number: AI01230015


The citation for this study is:

Thompson, P., Newby, H. (2005). Families, Social Mobility and Ageing, an Intergenerational Approach, 1900-1988. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 4938,

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Subject Categories

Family life and marriage - Social stratification and groupings
Social and occupational mobility - Social stratification and groupings
Social attitudes and behaviour - Society and culture


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

This study is available via the UK Data Service QualiBank, an online tool for browsing, searching and citing the content of selected qualitative data collections held at the UK Data Service.
Colloquially known as '100 Families', this qualitative study sought to trace connections between family life and social mobility. It did so through 170 in-depth life story interviews spread across three generations of family life.

The research team, headed by Paul Thompson and Howard Newby at the University of Essex, devised an interview schedule that asked participants extensive questions relating to their own and their family's education, politics, family trees, marriage and relationships, housing, parents' work, and leisure. The interviews average 54 pages in length and were conducted during the mid-1980s.

The fieldwork strategy selected a 'middle generation' of married men and women with children. These 'middle generation' informants were initially drawn from a subsample of informants interviewed for an ESRC project and had agreed to be re-interviewed. They were located in 200 polling districts in 35 parliamentary constituencies in Scotland, London, north-west, west and south-east England and the Midlands. Later on, further polling districts were added and a stratified occupational quota was introduced to ensure an appropriate class balance.

The collection consists of interviews with 170 informants. Of these, 87 were middle generation, 42 younger, and 41 were older generation informants. The families included 26 represented by a lone participant and 11 where all three generations were interviewed.

This is an enhanced qualitative study. It has been enhanced through scanning, proof-reading and the anonymisation of the original paper transcripts. Usability of the transcripts was further enhanced through reformatting of the layout, the insertion of XML speaker tags and eventual conversion to searchable Word and RTF formats.

Main Topics:
The survey was carried out with the purpose of gathering ethnographic and dynamic information illustrative of family, ageing, and social mobility. The semi-structured interview transcripts combine accounts of family background and occupations with full life stories covering education, politics, family tree, marriage and relationships, housing, parents' work, and leisure.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1900 - 1988
Dates of fieldwork: 1985 - 1988
Country: Great Britain
Spatial units: Wards (Electoral)
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Textual data
Individual (micro) level
Semi-structured interviews
Universe: National
Men and women aged 30 to 55 and married with children and older or younger (over 16) members of the family
Time dimensions: Cross-sectional (one-time) study
Sampling procedures: One-stage stratified or systematic random sample
Number of units: 170
Method of data collection: Face-to-face interview
Weighting: No weighting used

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 21 July 2005
Copyright: Copyright P. R. Thompson
Access conditions: The depositor has specified that registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. See terms and conditions of access for further information.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
Data list 4938datalist.xls 76
Data list 4938datalist.pdf 220
User Guide 4938uguide.pdf 5226
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_4938_Information.htm 19
READ File read4938.txt 5


View publications... Hide publications...

By principal investigator(s):
Thompson, P. R. (1992) 'I don’t feel old : subjective ageing and the search for meaning in later life', Ageing and Society, 12(2).

Thompson, P. R. (1993) 'Family myth, models and denials in the shaping of individual lifepaths' in P. R. Thompson and D. Bertaux, D. (eds.) Between generations, London: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, P. R., Itzen, C. and Abendstern, M. (1990) I don’t feel old : later life then and now, Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0-19820-147-8.

Thompson, P. R., 'I don't feel old : subjective ageing and the search for meaning in later life', paper presented at the World Congress of Sociology, Madrid, July 1990.

Resulting from secondary analysis:
Itzen, C. (1986) ‘Media images of women : the social construction of ageism and sexism’ IN S. Wilkinson (ed.) Feminist Social Psychology, Berkshire: Open University Press.

Smith, G., 'Working class attitudes to social mobility and the family in Scotland', paper presented at Atelier Constitution des Trajectoires Sociales, Paris, May 1986.

Itzen, C. (1988) Age and sexual divisions, University of Kent at Canterbury, PhD thesis.

Bertaux, D. and Bertaux-Wiame, I. (1988) 'La patrimoine et sa lignee : transmissions et mobilite sociale sur cinq generations', Life Stories; Recits de Vie, 4, pp.8-26.

Sanderson, K. (1988) ‘Women’s lives : social class and the oral historian’, Life Stories; Recits de Vie, 4, pp.27-35.

Sanderson, K., 'Meanings of class and social mobility', paper presented at British Sociological Association History and Sociology Annual Conference, Edinburgh, March 1988.

Smith, G. (1988) ‘Mito dell'uglianza e realta della disaccupazione : un'esperienza di storia orale a Dundee’, Informazione : Notiziario Bibliografica di Storia Contemporanea Italiana, 13, pp.6-10.

Bertaux-Wiame, I., 'Des recits de vie aux histoires de famille', paper presented at the Annual Congress, Association Canadienne de Sociologie et Anthropologie, Monkton, May 1988.

Itzin, C., 'Families and social mobility : myth and pretence in perceptions of social class', paper prepared for delivery at Myth and History, 6th International Oral History Conference, Oxford, September 11, 1989.

Thompson, P. Paul Thompson [interview], 6226int029, Pioneers of Qualitative Research, 1996-2012, UK Data Service: Colchester.


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