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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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Bringing Down the Curtain

Bringing Down the Curtain

(p.135) 8 Bringing Down the Curtain
Debating Emerging Adulthood

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett

Marion Kloep

Leo B. Hendry

Jennifer L. Tanner

Oxford University Press

In this last chapter, all four authors independently comment on how, if at all, it might be possible to reconcile the different standpoints of stage and ecological theory. Arnett argues for “one stage, many paths.” That is, emerging adulthood is experienced by most young people in industrialized countries, but the specific path they take varies widely by country, culture, social class, ethnicity, and gender. Kloep views Arnett’s concept of emerging adulthood not as a theory, but merely an observation that the behavior of young people under certain circumstances has changed compared to earlier generations. However, it might be an important step towards creating a more radical change; namely, abolishing stage theories altogether! Tanner emphasized the value of integrating stage and systems perspectives in understanding development, including emerging adult development. Hendry engages in a fictitious game of tennis in order to demonstrate the weaknesses (and more positive elements) in Arnett and Tanner’s arguments. The pathways to adult status, he argues, are more varied and complex than can be described by an essentially descriptive model. Only by linking with a multi-level, ecological theory could the nuances of different trajectories to adulthood be truly understood.

Keywords:   emerging adulthood, stage theories, systems theories, developmental systems, ecological theory

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