The American Journey through Adulthood
Mintz, Steven - Columbia University

2011-01-13 16:10:00-04:00
Ann Arbor, MI - University of Michigan - Tisch Hall Room 1014
Duration: 01:43:00

Today, the script of adulthood is undergoing profound transformations. A new life stage, identified as twentysomethings, delays the markers of adult identity - marrying, having children, and entering a full-time career. Meanwhile, a growing number of those at mid-life refuse to "act their age." They wear youthful fashions, listen to hip hop music, and actively resist the aging process. Marriage is no longer the predominant way that adults organize sexuality, childbearing, and childrearing.

In his talk, Professor Mintz places the far-reaching changes taking place in contemporary adulthood in historical perspective. He challenges a host of misconceptions surrounding this life stage, including the myths that the transition to adulthood was more seamless and smoother in the past and that the adult life course was more stable and predictable than it has since become. Despite the widespread sense that the transition to adulthood has grown longer, riskier, and tougher, coming of age has never been easy. He claims that there has never been a time when most Americans experienced what we might consider the modal adult life script: a stable marriage and career. The definition that associates adulthood with maturity and conformity to socially-prescribed gender roles is a relatively recent invention, a temporary phase in the ongoing process in which the life course has repeatedly been reconstructed and reconfigured.


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