Arland Thornton

Arland Thornton

Ph.D., University of Michigan
M.A., University of Michigan
B.A., Brigham Young University

Arland Thornton is Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan, where he is also a Research Professor at the Population Studies Center and Survey Research Center. He is a social demographer who has served as president of the Population Association of America and currently holds a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health. For much of his career, 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. His 2001 presidential address to the Population Association of America focused on this topic, as does his award-winning book entitled Reading History Sideways: the Fallacy and Enduring Impact of the Developmental Paradigm on Family Life. Of particular importance for Thornton's current work are the ways in which values, beliefs, and people have been and are being distributed around the world. His work (in collaboration with others) has involved conceptualization, measurement, and analysis of data from several countries, including Albania, Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Malawi, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, the U.S., and Vietnam.

Curriculum Vitae

Research Profile at the Population Studies Center

Select Monographs

Arland Thornton. "Reading History Sideways: The Fallacy and Enduring Impact of the Developmental Paradigm on Family Life." The University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Arland Thornton, William Axinn, and Yu Xie. "Marriage and Cohabitation." University of Chicago Press. 2007.

Rukmalie Jayakody, Arland Thornton, and William Axinn, Eds. "International Family Change: Ideational Perspectives." Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2007.

Articles & Chapters

Thornton, Arland, Shawn F. Dorius, Jeffrey Swindle, Linda Young-Demarco, and Mansoor Moaddel. 2017. "Middle Eastern Beliefs about the Causal Linkages of Development to Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights." Sociology of Development, 70(94): 70-94.

Thornton, Arland, Kathryn M. Yount, Linda Young-Demarco, and Mansoor Moaddel. 2017. "Modernization, World System, and Clash of Civilization Perspectives in Lay Views of the Development- Morality Nexus in the United States and the Middle East." In Values, Political Action, and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring edited by Mansoor Moaddel and Michele J. Gelfand. Chapter 4. Oxford University Press.

Yount, Kathryn M., Arland Thornton, Linda Young-Demarco, and Shilpa N. Patel. 2017. "Lay Accounts of "Modern" and "Traditional" Family in Greater Cairo: A Test of Developmental Models of Family Life." In Values, Political Action, and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring edited by Mansoor Moaddel and Michele J. Gelfand. Chapter 5. Oxford University Press.

Melegh, Attila, Tamás Kiss, Sabina Csánóová, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Arland Thornton. 2016. "The perception of global hierarchies: South-Eastern European patterns in comparative perspectives." Chinese Journal of Sociology, 2(4): 497-523.

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Linda Young-DeMarco, Colter Mitchell, Kathryn M. Yount, and Yu Xie. 2016. "Evaluating the measurement reliabilities and dimensionality of developmental idealism measures." Chinese Journal of Sociology, 2(4): 609-635.

Thornton, Arland, and Yu Xie. 2016. "Developmental Idealism in China." Chinese Journal of Sociology, 2(4): 483-496.

Thornton, Arland, and Li-Shou Yang. 2016. "Perceptions of Developmental Hierarchies in Taiwan: Conceptual, Substantive, and Methodological Insights." Chinese Journal of Sociology, 2(4): 547-576.

Allendorf, Keera, and Arland Thornton. 2015. "Caste and Choice: The Influence of Developmental Idealism on Marriage Behavior." American Journal of Sociology, 121(1): 243-287.

Thornton, Arland, Shawn F. Dorius, and Jeffrey Swindle. 2015. "Developmental Idealism: The Cultural Foundations of World Development Programs." Sociology of Development, 1(2): 277-320. PDF.

Lai, Qing, and Arland Thornton. 2015. "The making of family values: Developmental idealism in Gansu, China." Social Science Research, 51: 174-188.

Thornton, Arland. 2014. "Population Structures." In Concise Encyclopedia of Comparative Sociology edited by Sasaki, Goldstone, Zimmermann, and Sanderson. Brill. PDF.

Thornton, Arland, Rachael Pierotti, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Susan Watkins. 2014. "Developmental Idealism and Cultural Models of the Family in Malawi." Population Research and Policy Review, 33(5): 693-716.

Binstock, Georgina, Arland Thornton, M.J. Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha J. Ghimire, Yu Xie, and K.M. Yount. 2013. "Influences on the knowledge and beliefs of ordinary people about developmental hierarchies." International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 54(4): 325-344.

Kavas, Serap, and Arland Thornton. 2013. "Adjustment and Hybridity in Turkish Family Change: Perspectives from Developmental Idealism." Journal of Family History, 38(2): 223-241.

Melegh, Attila, Arland Thornton, Dimiter Philipov, and Linda Young-DeMarco. 2013. "Perceptions of societal developmental hierarchies in Europe and beyond: A Bulgarian Perspective." European Sociological Review, 29(3): 603-615.

Thornton, Arland. 2012. "Developed and less developed societies." In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization edited by George Ritzer. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. [PDF, full text, unedited]

Thornton, Arland. 2012. "Developmental idealism." In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization edited by George Ritzer. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. [PDF, full text, unedited]

Thornton, Arland. 2012. "International Family Change And Continuity: The Past And Future From The Developmental Idealism Perspective." In Marriage at the Crossroads: Law, Policy, and the Brave New World of Twenty-First-Century Families edited by Marsha Garrison and Elizabeth Scott.

Thornton, Arland, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2012. "Views of the Interrelationships of the Dimensions of Developmental Idealism and Family Life: Evidence from Nepal." PSC Research Report No. 12-778. 10 2012.

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha J. Ghimire, Arjan Gjonca, Attila Melegh, Colter Mitchell, Mansoor Moaddel, Yu Xie, Li-Shou Yang, Linda Young-DeMarco, and Kathryn Yount. 2012. "Knowledge and Beliefs about National Development and Developmental Hierarchies: the Viewpoints of Ordinary People in Thirteen Countries." Social Science Research, 41(5): 1053-1068.

Thornton, Arland, Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Colter Mitchell. 2012. "The measurement and prevalence of an ideational model of family and economic development in Nepal." Population Studies, 66(3): 329-345.

Xie, Yu, Arland Thornton, Guangzhou Wang, and Qing Lai. 2012. "Societal Projection: Beliefs Concerning the Relationship between Development and Inequality in China." Social Science Research, 41(5): 1069-1084.

Abbasi-Shavazi, Mohammad Jalal, Abbas Askari-Nodoushan, and Arland Thornton. 2012. "Family Life and Developmental Idealism in Yazd, Iran." Demographic Research, 26: 207-238.

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, Kathryn M. Yount, Mohammad Abbasi-Shavazi, Dirgha J. Ghimire, and Yu Xie. 2012. "International Fertility Change: New Data and Insights from the Developmental Idealism Framework." Demography, 49(2): 677-698.

Thornton, Arland. 2011. "The International Fight Against Barbarism: Historical and Comparative Perspectives on Marriage Timing, Consent, and Polygamy." In Modern Polygamy in the United States: Historical, Cultural, and Legal Issues. Oxford University Press.

Thornton, Arland. 2010. "Reviewed Work: 'A Historical Sociology of Childhood: Developmental Thinking, Categorization and Graphic Visualization' by André Turmel." American Historical Review, 115(1): 184-185.

Thornton, Arland, Alexandra Achen Killewald, Jennifer S. Barber, Georgina Binstock, Wade M. Garrison, Dirgha J. Ghimire, Ronald F. Inglehart, Rukmalie Jayakody, Yang Jiang, Julie de Jong, Katherine E. King, Ron J. Lesthaeghe, Sohair Mehanna, Colter Mitchell, Mansoor Moaddel, Mary Beth Ofstedal, Norbert Schwarz, Guangzhou Wang, Yu Xie, Li-Shou Yang, Linda Young-Demarco, and Kathryn Yount. 2010. "Creating Questions and Protocols for an International Study of Ideas About Development and Family Life." In Survey Methods in Multinational, Multiregional and Multicultural Conexts edited by Janet A. Harkness, Michael Braun, Brad Edwards, Timothy P. Johnson, Lars Lyberg, Peter Ph. Mohler, Beth-Ellen Pennell, Tom W. Smith. John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Thornton, Arland. 2009. "Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Marriage." In Marriage and family: perspectives and complexities edited by H. Elizabeth Peters and Claire M. Kamp Dush. New York: Columbia University Press.

Thornton, Arland. 2009. "Framework for Interpreting Long-Term Trends in Values and Beliefs Concerning Single-Parent Families." Journal of Marriage and Family, 71(2): 230-234. PDF.

Thornton, Arland, and Dimiter Philipov. 2009. "Sweeping Changes in Marriage, Cohabitation and Childbearing in Central and Eastern Europe: New Insights from the Developmental Idealism Framework." European Journal of Population, 25: 123-156. PDF.

Thornton, Arland, Georgina Binstock, and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2008. "International dissemination of ideas about development and family change." In International Family Change: ideational perspectives edited by Rukmalie Jayakody, Arland Thornton, William G Axinn. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Jayakody, Rukmalie, Arland Thornton, and William G. Axinn. 2008. . (Eds)International Family Change: Ideational Perspectives. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Binstock, Georgina, and Arland Thornton. 2007. "Knowledge and Use of Developmental Thinking about Societies and Families among Teenagers in Argentina." Demográfia, 50(5): 75-104. PDF.

Thornton, Arland. 2001. "The Developmental Paradigm, Reading History Sideways and Family Change." Demography, 38(4): 449-465.

Recent Pub

Allendorf, "Conflict and Compatibility? Developmental Idealism and Gendered Differences in Marital Choice." Journal of Marriage and Family

Recent Pub

Thornton, Dorius, Swindle, Young-Demarco, Moaddel. "Middle Eastern Beliefs about the Causal Linkages of Development to Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights." Sociology of Development.

Recent Pub

Kiss, Tamás. "Escaping the "Balkanizing" Gaze? Perceptions of Global and Internal Developmental Hierarchies in Romania." East European Politics and Societies.

Reading History Sideways

The method of reading history sideways is described and critiqued by Arland Thornton

Video Lecture

Arland Thornton speaks on "Developmental Idealism: The Cultural Foundations of Worldwide Development Programs"

© 2017
Developmental Idealism
Population Studies Center
University of Michigan