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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Jonathan Sherman, PhD (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine)
Description: This book is a reference manual for the study of the developmental nature of social relationships across the lifespan. Arranged as an encyclopedia, it includes entries, arranged alphabetically, that cover a wide range of topics regarding the changing nature of social involvement during life stages like childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Entries integrate current theoretical and research knowledge from a wide range of psychological disciplines (i.e., developmental psychology, social psychology) as well as related disciplines like anthropology, history, and religion.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide students of social relationships a brief but detailed summary of a particular area of interest and provide suggestions for further reading. The effort to create, in one source, a study tool that integrates such diverse material is a worthy one, and the author does an excellent job of meeting this objective.
Audience: This book seems ideally suited as a reference manual for university and graduate level "courses dealing with human development, intimate relationships, marriage and family, communications studies, family studies, human sexuality, parenthood, social psychology, clinical psychology, general psychology, and general sociology." Therefore, the encyclopedia will be of special interest to teachers of these subjects to assist in course preparation.
Features: In addition to the further reading recommendations that follow each entry, there is an extensive bibliography that lists additional sources, all published after 1993. The index is primarily a subject index and is well organized. There is an appendix featuring a list of 100 relevant professional journals and 65 organizations.
Assessment: In spite of taking on the difficult task of compiling and organizing material on the broad topic of social relationships across the lifespan, the author does a remarkable job of creating a useful, coherent, and stimulating reference tool. He should especially be commended for including often neglected material regarding racial and ethnic identity, religious affiliation, sexual preference, and economic status into his discussion of human social behavior. Entries are concise but highly informative, especially from the perspective of the student new to lifespan studies. However, with the inclusion of numerous current citations, this book is likely to be attractive to more advanced members of a covered field.