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Emerging Adulthood and Contemporary Society: Development in the Third Decade 

Emerging Adulthood and Contemporary Society: Development in the Third Decade
Chapter:
Emerging Adulthood and Contemporary Society: Development in the Third Decade
Source:
The Little Book of Child and Adolescent Development
Author(s):

Karen J. Gilmore

and Pamela Meersand

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199899227.003.0008

This chapter examines the twenty-first century proposal of a new developmental phase called “emerging adulthood”: young people between roughly 23 and 30 years of age are whose identities are still in flux. As described by its originator and main proponent, James Arnett, the primary tasks for this cohort are the exploration and the consolidation of identity and the subjective conviction of adulthood, which are still elusive into the twenties. Arnett’s designated time frame of 18 to 24 years has been amended by some developmental researchers and clinical observers, who note that his description fits today’s 23- to 30-year-olds struggling to become adults in the technocultural era. These are pioneers in a changed world, without experienced mentors and uncertain about how and even whether to aspire to traditional adult achievements such as marriage, childrearing, career commitment, and home ownership. Although this may be a fleeting epiphenomena of the transition to the digital era in Western society, proponents believe it may also unmask ongoing developmental issues, just as the elucidation of adolescence did in the twentieth century.

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