Growing Up to What? On the Grounded Theory of Adulthood as the Goal of Growing Up
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University of Warsaw
Submission date: 2023-10-25
Acceptance date: 2024-03-04
Publication date: 2024-06-10
Polish Sociological Review 2024;226(2):113-132
Adulthood is a complex social and cultural phenomenon. Although socially obvious, it is fluid in terms of its determinants and the time at which it occurs. The article attempts to answer the question what is it that emerging adults grow up to, and what is the goal of the process of growing up? The guiding objective was therefore to reconstruct a grounded theory of adulthood. For this purpose that qualitative research embracing semi-structured interviews was designed and carried out. The findings are locally embedded and aim to reconstruct the concept of adulthood prevailing in contemporary Polish culture, built on the experiences and opinions of Poles of different ages. The social construct of adulthood that emerges from our research constitutes the sum of economic independence, responsibility for oneself and for others, and emotional self-control. These features are also the opposite of the stereotypical image of childhood, as a time of dependence, carefreeness, and vulnerability. This means that growing up in our culture is a long-lasting process of transition between two extremes, but a process that only prepares one to a small degree for such a revolution in one’s life, and this has its psychological and social consequences.
This work was supported by the University of Warsaw within the program “Excellence Initiative—Research University,” as the project “Dorosłość jako konstrukt społeczny: praktyki badawcze dla studentów ISNS UW” [lit. Adulthood as a social construct: practical experience in research for students of the IASS of the University of Warsaw] (BOB-661-326/2022, action no. IV.3.1). The grant manager was Aleksandra Herman.
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