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Emerging AdulthoodThe Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties$
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Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199929382

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199929382.001.0001

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How Important Is Social Class?

How Important Is Social Class?

(p.244) Chapter 10 How Important Is Social Class?
Emerging Adulthood

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Oxford University Press

Critics of the theory of emerging adulthood claim that the theory applies only to the middle- and upper-middle-class young people who go to university and have enough financial support from parents to experience personal freedom and leisure during these years, but not to the working-class and lower-class young people who have far fewer options. In this chapter this issue is first addressed by reviewing research from the national Clark poll of 18–29-year-olds, showing far more similarities than differences with respect to social class. Then, four case studies are presented of African Americans in their twenties from various social class backgrounds. The Clark poll findings and these case studies illustrate that even though there are clear and sometimes dramatic differences in life prospects depending on social class, there is enough similarity across social classes to merit the application of “emerging adulthood” to the age group as a whole.

Keywords:   social class, African Americans, emerging adulthood, Clark poll, case studies

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