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Debating Emerging AdulthoodStage or Process?$
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Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Marion Kloep, Leo B. Hendry, and Jennifer L. Tanner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199757176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199757176.001.0001

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Themes and Variations in Emerging Adulthood across Social Classes

Themes and Variations in Emerging Adulthood across Social Classes

(p.31) 3 Themes and Variations in Emerging Adulthood across Social Classes
Debating Emerging Adulthood

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Jennifer L. Tanner

Oxford University Press

This chapter takes on the critique, made by Kloep and Hendry among others, that the theory of emerging adulthood obscures the variation by social class that exists in the 18-29 age group. First, demographic differences by social class among emerging adults are noted, specifically educational attainment and age at marriage. Views of adulthood are similar across social classes, although persons from lower SES backgrounds tend to be earlier to reach a subjective sense of becoming adult. Views of the future have been found to be similarly optimistic across social classes, although persons with lower educational attainment have less promising actual prospects in the job market. Then four African American emerging adults from Arnett’s research are profiled, to show themes and variations across social classes. The profiles reveal that the influence of social class on pathways through emerging adulthood is profound, but social class is a more complex and unpredictable variable than is often acknowledged.

Keywords:   emerging adulthood, social class, educational attainment, african americans, marriage timing

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