Contemporary Adults: Understanding Youth through Intergenerational Comparison

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Ilaria PITTI , Department of Sociology and Business Law, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Although sociology has already deeply analysed the profound changes occurred to youth and paths of transition to adulthood in the last decades, it is often possible to notice two glaring deficiencies in many sociological works: firstly, young people are frequently conceived as a category of its own, a specific social group that is somewhat isolated and studied separately, making at most a comparison with the previous young generations; secondly little attention has been payed to adulthood, the final destination of youth.
Adults should be a model for young people’s transitions, but within the contemporary context this stage of life’s standard model is threaten by contemporary transformations and late-modern processes (individualisation, flexibilisation, globalisation, juvenilisation) and it’s become more and more complex to define what is ‘young’ and what is ‘adult’, where youth finishes and where adulthood starts, which functions characterise these two ages and which are their reciprocal connections.
All that has huge consequences on the (individual and social) identity both of young people and adults, on their intergenerational relationships and on youth transitions.
The intent of the proposed contribute is to think youth in a generational way by studying young people in relation and in comparison to the co-present adult generation, lighting up the contemporary features of adulthood.
The proposed contribute - based on an empirical research which involved 30 Italian young people aged between 18 and 24yo and their significant adults through semi-structured interviews- aims at contrasting the specific interpretations of adult identity emerging from the representations and practices of adulthood of two generations: the baby boom and the millennial one.
Through this comparison the presented research highlights the processes beneath contemporary intergenerational dynamics inside and outside the family, allowing a deeper knowledge and understanding of contemporary youth.