Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties

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Oxford University Press, Aug 19, 2004 - Psychology - 280 pages
Recently the lives of people from age 18 to 29 have changed so dramatically that a new stage of life has developed, emerging adulthood, that is distinct from both the adolescence that precedes it and the young adulthood that comes in its wake. Rather than marrying and becoming parents in their early twenties, most people in industrialized societies now postpone these transitions until at least their late twenties, and instead spend the time in self-focused exploration as they try out different possibilities in their careers and relationships. In Emerging Adulthood, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett identifies and labels, for the first time, this period exploration, instability, possibility, self-focus, and a sustained sense of being in limbo. An increasing number of emerging adults emphasize having meaningful and satisfying work to a degree not seen in prior generations. Marrying later and exploring more casual sexual relationships have created different hopes and fears concerning long-term commitments and the differences between love and sex. Emerging adults also face the challenge of defending their non-traditional lifestyles to parents and others outside their generation who have made much more traditional choices. In contrast to previous portrayals of emerging adults, Arnett's research shows that they are particularly skilled at maintaining contradictory emotions--they are confident while still being wary, and optimistic in the face of large degrees of uncertainty. As the demographics of American youth, the American workplace, and adulthood continue to evolve, Emerging Adulthood is indispensable reading for anyone wanting to understand the face of modern America.
 

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Contents

1 A Longer Road to Adulthood
3
2 What Is It Like to Be an Emerging Adult? Four Profiles
27
A New Relationship With Parents
47
4 Love and Sex
73
5 Meandering Toward Marriage
97
Twists and Turns
119
More Than a Job
143
Religious Beliefs and Values
165
Four Case Studies
189
What Does It Mean to Become an Adult?
207
Notes
229
References
247
Index of Names
259
General Index
263
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