Transitions to adulthood

Authored by: Rachel Thomson

Youth Justice Handbook

Print publication date:  October  2009
Online publication date:  February  2014

Print ISBN: 9781843927174
eBook ISBN: 9781315820064
Adobe ISBN: 9781317821755


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What does it mean to be an adult to young people growing up in the UK today? Becoming sexually active? Learning to drive? Earning a wage? Becoming a parent? This chapter will draw on a sociological and youth studies framework to explore the ways that the subjective and objective markers of adulthood have changed over the course of a generation: from a collective rite of passage to a fragmented and increasingly individualized process giving rise to a distinction between the extended transitions to adulthood of middle-class young people and the ‘faster’ or ‘accelerated’ transitions of more marginalized groups. The chapter draws on the Inventing Adulthoods study, a ten-year investigation of young people’s transitions, in order to illustrate the importance of the subjective dimension of the transition to adulthood – feelings of competence, autonomy and recognition by others.

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