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10th Annual De Jong Lecture in Social Demography

Friday, November 13, 2015 at 8:45am to 11:45am

Nittany Lion Inn, Assembly Room

Developmental Idealism: Its Global Dissemination and Social and Demographic Effects  

Presented by Dr. Arland Thornton, Professor of Sociology, Research Professor at the Population Studies Center and Survey Research Center, University of Michigan

Dr. Thornton will discuss the importance of cultural models of development on a range of social and demographic matters, including family, fertility, gender roles, marriage, education, human rights, daily social conventions, and religion. Developmental idealism is a cultural model—a set of beliefs and values—that identifies the appropriate goals of development and the ends for achieving these goals. It includes beliefs about cause-and-effect relationships among such factors as economic growth, educational achievement, family, fertility, and political governance, as well as strong values regarding many attributes, including economic growth, education, small families, gender equality, and democratic governance. This cultural model has spread from its origins among the elites of northwest Europe to elites and ordinary people throughout the world. Developmental idealism has become so entrenched in local, national, and global social institutions that it has now achieved a taken-for-granted status among many national elites, academics, development practitioners, and ordinary people around the world. Dr. Thornton argues that developmental idealism has been a fundamental force behind many cultural clashes within and between societies and continues to be an important cause of much global social change. He suggests that developmental idealism should be included as a causal factor in theories of demographic and social behavior and change.

For much of his career, Dr. Thornton has focused on the study of family and demographic issues, with a particular emphasis on marriage, cohabitation, divorce, childbearing, intergenerational relations, and gender roles. He has received four awards for his books as well as a distinguished career award from the American Sociological Association. During the past decade Thornton has devoted considerable time and energy studying developmental idealism and its influence in many areas of the world.  


David Baker, Professor of Education and Sociology, Penn State   

Sarah Hayford, Professor of Sociology, Faculty Affiliate Institute for Population Research, The Ohio State University 



The conference is free for all attendees. 


Schedule - Nittany Lion Inn Assembly Room 

8:30 Check-in; Coffee available 

9:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks 

9:10 Dr. Arland Thornton 

10:00 Break 

10:10 Dr. David Baker 

Dr. Sarah Hayford 

11:00 Open Discussion 

11:45 Reception in Faculty Staff Club 


Please note that students are not allowed to park in the Nittany Lion Inn parking deck. 


Lecture Sponsors 

The De Jong Lecture is generously supported by the Gordon F. and Caroline M. De Jong Lectureship in Social Demography Endowment, administered jointly (and supplemented as necessary) by the Department of Sociology and the Population Research Institute at Penn State. 

Gordon F. De Jong is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Demography, former Director of the Graduate Program in Demography, and Senior Scientist Emeritus with the Population Research Institute at Penn State. 

Caroline M. De Jong , a former middle school teacher, has been involved in numerous community, church, and university-related organizations including the American Association of University Women, Stay-and-Play Nursery School, Presbyterian Women, and the Centre County Board of Elections. 



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