Demarcating Role Transitions as Indicators of Adulthood in the 21st Century: Who Are They?

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The present study examines the transition into adulthood from a Symbolic Interactionism perspective, where people come to define themselves based on cultural influences and established cultural norms. College students (N = 234; mean age 23 years, SD = 6.26; 69.4% White, 14.5% Hispanic, 4.7% African-American) who had placed more importance on role transition markers (e.g., parenthood and marriage) as indicators of the transition into adulthood belonged to a fraternity/sorority were a traditionally aged college student (aged 18–25), were an ethnic minority were of a traditional marital status (i.e., not cohabitating) or belonged to a religious organization (particularly for men). These findings are consistent with the view that people who apparently hold collectivist or more traditional values place more importance on role transition markers as markers of adulthood. It is suggested that research take into account the cultural context when studying developmental periods that are culturally construed (i.e., the transition to adulthood), rather than biologically based.

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