changing notions of adulthood

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I just started reading this:

Coming Up ShortWorking-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty

Jennifer M. Silva

Print publication date: 2013

Traditional markers of adulthood have become increasingly delayed, disorderly, reversible, or even forgone in the latter half of the twentieth century. This book draws upon 100 interviews with working-class men and women in their twenties to early thirties to investigate the changing meanings and practices of adulthood. Looked at through the eyes of young working-class men and women, the transition to adulthood emerges as a very grim picture, one characterized by economic instability, precarious employment, uncertainty surrounding marriage and family, and deepening inequality… In the absence of the traditional rites of passage, the majority of respondents told therapeutic coming of age stories, framing their journeys to adulthood as a struggle to triumph over personal demons and reconstruct an emancipated and transformed self. However, there is a darker side to this new adulthood, which threatens to make self-reliance—and severing social ties—the only imaginable path to a life of dignity.

Particularly antsy to get to this section:

In particular, it investigates why young people who would seemingly benefit most from social safety nets and solidarity with others cling so fiercely to neoliberal ideals of untrammeled individualism and self-reliance. Over and over again, working-class youth experience bewilderment and betrayal in institutions, learning that they can depend on others only at great cost. The more “flexible” they must become in their interactions with institutions—that is, the more they learn to manage short-term commitment and disillusionment—the more “hardened” they become toward the world around them. This “hardening” is particularly acute across lines of gender and race, as they see others as competition in the fight for stable jobs and secure futures.


Have I told you about one of the books I’ve been reading, Kids These Days? It goes pretty deep into the many, many ways in which various aspects of modern society have fucked us up, including everything mentioned here.