Emerging adulthood: A comparative analysis across vocational settings
The current study employed a mixed methodology to investigate whether emerging adulthood differs based on vocational setting. Quantitative questionnaires were completed by 18-29 year-olds from university, vocational college/trade school, and the labour force (without post-secondary) to examine conceptions of what marks adulthood, perceptions of having reached adulthood, perceptions of having reached markers of adulthood, identity development, identification with themes of emerging adulthood, and the importance of vocational setting in shaping emerging adulthood. Qualitative interviews exploring the same areas were undertaken with a subset of participants. Results revealed few associations between vocational setting and conceptions of adulthood or perceptions of having reached adulthood, with most emerging adults feeling ambiguous about their adult status and viewing independence as the most important marker of adulthood. Those from the labour force did perceive reaching independence, role transitions, and family capacities to the greatest degree; earlier adverse circumstances seemed relevant in reaching these markers. Fewer than expected from the labour force had achieved identities, yet identity development appeared to be a gradual process for all. Participants generally identified with themes of emerging adulthood, although university students did so to a greater degree in some ways. Emerging adulthood was identified as a time of fewer possibilities and diminished agency for those from the labour force. Unique life experiences and social interactions were also deemed important factors in emerging adulthood. Together, findings largely support emerging adulthood as a valid theory of development, while also suggesting some diversity in its full expression across vocational settings.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
SupervisorFarthing, Gerald R.
CommitteeMcDougall, Patti; Chirkov, Valery I.; Hellsten, Laurie M.; Syed, Moin
Copyright DateJune 2012
Transition to Adulthood