Transitions to Adulthood in the Land of Lake Wobegon

Teresas Toguchi Swartz, Douglas Hartmann and Jeylan T. Smortimer

in Coming of Age in America

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780520270923
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950184 | DOI:
Transitions to Adulthood in the Land of Lake Wobegon

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This chapter investigates round interviews with participants from the St. Paul study to explore how young adults in the Land of Lake Wobegon understand and experience these diverse pathways and trajectories. St. Paul is the capital city of a prosperous and generally progressive upper-midwestern state. It is comparatively homogenous, has a strong economy, and boasts excellent public schools and generous welfare benefits. The city has also high levels of religious identification, participation, and belief, and a long history of civic participation and public consciousness. St. Paul appears very much like Garrison Keillor's mythical Lake Wobegon: a community where everyone seems to be nice, normal, and slightly above average. Young adults in St. Paul extract a surprisingly broad orientation and commitment to family and community as aspects of adulthood that may be protective in view of the divergent and disruptive aspects of modern trajectories into adulthood.

Keywords: St. Paul; Lake Wobegon; Garrison Keillor; adulthood; welfare

Chapter.  19280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Population and Demography

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