TitleBecoming Adult: Meanings and Markers for Young Americans
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSettersten, RA
EditorWaters, MC, Carr, PJ, Kefalas, MJ, Holdaway, J
Book TitleComing of Age in America: The Transition to Adulthood in the Twenty-First Century
PublisherUniversity of California Press
ISBN Number0520270932

Against the protracted and ever more fragmented transition, against patterns that suggest significant uncertainty about experiences and opportunities that lay ahead, and against longer reliance on others for support, how do young people come to think about themselves as “adults”? This chapter seeks to understand young adults’ perspectives on what adulthood means, what experiences or statuses mark it, and how adult identities are achieved. The first section turns to themes of the salience and meanings of chronological age as a marker in this process, especially in getting the process started. The second section then develops a set of themes related to the gradual nature of the transition to adulthood and its implications for identity-building in early adulthood. The chapter draws on in-depth interviews with young people from all four of the settings discussed in prior chapters this book: New York City, San Diego, Minneapolis, and rural Iowa. An overview of the four samples and research designs is provided in the opening chapter.