Social Clock Research Papers Examples

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Sociology, Life, Alcoholism, Age, Family, Alcohol, Events, Culture

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/26


The social clock is a concept that describes major life events and changes expected to tae place at a certain time during an individual’s lifetime. Societal expectations of and attitudes towards these major life changes constitute the timeline o one’s social clock. Moreover, this hypothetical clock determines how an individual has progressed within his or her age range amongst peers. This theory germinated out of various developmental theories that describe how people grow, develop, and change as they transition from childhood, to adulthood, to old age. Studying this concept from a qualitative approach provides insight into the relevance of this theory within the context of modernity. Within western societies, consuming alcohol has emerged as normative behavior despite stringent laws that codify the legal drinking age. Studying the attitudes of parents and adolescents alike regarding their attitudes towards alcohol consumption will illuminate the relevance of the concept of the social clock in the modern west.


Elite women living in New York during the nineteenth century strictly followed an elaborate social calendar that called for women to attend certain functions according to the seasons. This annual social calendar “developed over the years into a finely detailed schedule of events, of departures, and arrivals worthy of a train timetable in the great age of railroads”(Montgomery, 1998, pp. 18-19). Maintaining and adhering to a fixed annual schedule every year constituted a “virtue” in the eyes of the social elite and leaders. Participating in certain events functioned as “benchmarks for New York society” that regulated their lives (p.19). This concept of a social calendar, although to a much lesser extent and socially and culturally constructed on a micro scale, mirrors the concept of a social clock.
The journey of an individual from adolescence, to early adulthood, to middle adulthood, to retirement, and ultimately to death are marked by life stages that function as developmental milestones. Psychologists have contended that many individuals suffer from a crisis during their midlife transition, as they grapple with regret, failure, struggle, and fear (Myers & Myers, 2008, pp. 134-135). All cultures and subcultures, or social groups within a larger group that can be identified by certain cultural idiosyncrasies, have their own specific social clock. According to Myers & Myers (2008), the social clock is “the culturally preferred timing of social events such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement,” which is idiosyncratic according to locale, culture, and epoch (Myers & Myers, 2008, p. 135). Devising and measuring the social clock of a particular subgroup within a larger culture helps people identify idiosyncratic values and beliefs. Many psychologists have recently considered whether or not men perceive or respond to the notion of a social clock, or deadlines for major life stages and events according to societal conventions, in the same way that women do. Much evidence abounds regarding how the social clock structures the lives of both men and women in adulthood (Goldberg, 2008). Social norms govern the perceptions of people regarding parenting. Men and women who become parents at a culturally ideal time in their lives adjusted far quicker and more easily to a dramatic life event than those who become parents “off-time,” albeit too early or too late (Goldberg, 2008).
The differences between older and younger adults are created not by cognitive of physical changes that transpire during the aging process but rather with significant benchmarks and life events. New expectations, a new job, new demands, and new relationships all constitute important lie events that profoundly contribute to the process of social development. Marriage translates into both the stress of merging one’s life with another person as well as the quotidian joy of love and intimacy. Childbirth also incurs a litany of responsibilities and reorients one’s life focus towards others rather than on the self. Bereavement, especially the passing of loved ones and close relatives, brings irreplaceable and deeply emotional loss that requires people to reevaluate and reaffirm their own loves. As such, these events shape normally predictable changes during the course of one’s lifetime (Myers & Myers, 2008, p. 134). Within the context of an increasingly modernizing and technologically-driven society, life events trigger transitions to new states in one’s life at a far more unpredictable rate than had been witnessed previously. While the social clock still ticks according to tradition perceptions of benchmark events in people’s lives, it is unequivocal that people have become freer to not strictly follow or adhere to the social clock. Moreover, chanced and unplanned events such as romantic attraction have a trenchant impact on the trajectory of one’s journey through life.


Social clocks are not a fixed truism but rather changes according to cultural standards. Members of Eastern cultures and societies often treat alcohol, marriage, and family in a much different fashion than those who belong to western cultures. Surveys must be distributed in order to assess how culture conditions social clocks.
One culturally idiosyncratic factor is alcohol consumption and the age in which it is deemed acceptable. In western societies, reaching this arbitrary age is a rite of passage for many, as drinking alcohol as a social signifier of adulthood has increasingly become more and more important. Alcohol consumption amongst adolescents poses a public health hazard that parents must consider and plan on how they will broach the subject with their children. Indeed, in western societies, procuring the legal right to drink alcohol marks a seminal landmark in people’s lives. Understanding how parents’ perceptions and beliefs about their children consuming alcohol and how social and peer networks contribute to the germination of behavioral norms related to the consumption of alcohol in order to directly address risky behavior related to drinking alcohol at an early age. The onset of alcohol drinking often affects how individuals perceive other landmark events in their lives. Collecting information on and assessing parenting approaches and styles to the consumption of alcohol amongst adolescents will help understand the extent the concept of a social clocks affects the onset of alcohol consumption as normative and acceptable behavior.


A corpus of literature indicates that in most industrialized nations, individuals only feel like they have developed into adults after they reach their late twenties or early thirties. Age-graded expectations for similar life events such as marriage, the birth of a first child, getting a job, and retiring either conform to or depart from the social clock, which is a major part of the development of a person’s personality during adulthood. If the social clock is adhered to, many adolescents become more confident during their transition into adult hood. Moreover, social stability in certain cultures and societies depend on the commitment to the patterns of the hegemonic social clock. The temporal organization of human behavior structures quotidian human behaviors. Through a qualitative study on the social clock through an analysis of alcohol consumption in young children, it is evident that both parents and peers exacerbate the concept of the social clock because, within the context of industrialization and modernization, individuals embrace a group mentality when reaching certain milestones in their lives.
Although the parenting approaches and styles to the consumption of alcohol amongst adolescents in the U.S. widely varies, it is unequivocal that their intentions to mitigate harm and hazardous behaviors is quite consistent. Many parents introduce alcohol consumption to their children at an age much younger than the legal age to drink despite the fact that western guidelines recommend delaying such exposure. Even parents who adopt a parenting style that is austere expose their progeny to alcohol at an early age. By examining the attitudes and perceptions of both children and parents regarding the social clock and normative behavior, psychologists can better understand how peer networks amongst children and parents alike can cultivate more positive behaviors in western societies.
The questionnaire aims at ascertaining cultural idiosyncrasies regarding certain milestones in people’s lives. When distributed to five different ethnic and national communities, it is clear that cultural mores operate on an idiosyncratic basis, especially the legal drinking age, optimal time to get married, and the best time in one’s life to start a family. Gender also played a role in adherence to social clocks.


What is the ideal age for an individual to learn how to drive a car?
What is the ideal age to complete higher education studies?
What do you think is the ideal age to begin a career?
What age do you think is ideal to begin dating romantic interests?
At what age is it appropriate to drink alcoholic beverages?
In the present day, what is the ideal marriage for marriage
At what age is it ideal to become a parent?
What is the ideal age to retire?
Personal Data
Religious Affiliation?
Education Level?


Goldberg, W. (2008.). Father time: The social clock and the timing of fatherhood the social clock and the timing of fatherhood. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Montgomery, M. (1998). Displaying women: Spectacles of leisure in Edith Wharton's New York. New York: Routledge.
Myers, D., & Myers, D. (2008). Exploring psychology in modules (7th ed.). New York, NY: Worth.

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Social Clock Research Papers Examples. Free Essay Examples - Published Dec 26, 2020. Accessed December 04, 2022.

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