Becoming Adult

Richard A. Settersten Jr.

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:
Becoming Adult

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This chapter determines young adults' perspectives on what adulthood means, what experiences mark its passage, and how adult identities are built and ultimately accomplished. Age matters for societies, for groups of people in it, and for individuals. Becoming adult is innately about age in that it is about growing up and older. It is not surprising, then, that young people associate adulthood with age and easily provide specific ages at which they began to feel adult, almost always between 18 and 26. Nonetheless, young people do not suddenly feel adult upon reaching these landmark legal ages. Instead, they view these ages as representing starting points for adulthood rather than as things that immediately render the adult. Legal ages are also crucial to parents and other people in the social worlds of young adults. Young people in some instances regard chronological age as meaningless in determining when one becomes adult.

Keywords: legal ages; parents; identities; adult

Chapter.  9465 words. 

Subjects: Population and Demography

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