In 1995, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett introduced the idea of emerging adulthood to capture what he and growing numbers of psychologists and sociologists describe as a new stage in human development: emerging adulthood. Today, his research has evolved into a trans disciplinary professional society, journals and hundreds of research projects and monographs. What was once described in the developmental literature as late adolescence or early adulthood has now been reimagined as emerging adulthood. Across social, class, race and educational background, Arnett finds a pattern: a shared sense of feeling in-between, a liminal space. This new phenomenon, Arnett and others describe as a product of recent changes in economic life. On the one hand, these young people feel and experience a growing distance from adolescent struggles, conflicts and dependencies. While Arnett (2007) has aligned himself with a mostly anti-psychoanalytic understanding of youth development, it’s almost impossible to imagine the relevance of his work without the concept of psychic conflicts. Indeed, his entire oeuvre is premised on notions of psychic conflict, though unstated. On the other, they share a perception of feeling intractable dependence on family ties.
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