Young Adult Research
The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition
Katherine S. Newman (Beacon Press, 2012)
Why are adults in their twenties and thirties stuck in their parents' homes in the world's wealthiest countries? There's no question that globalization has drastically changed the cultural landscape across the world. The cost of living is rising, and high unemployment rates have created an untenable economic climate that has severely compromised the path to adulthood for young people in their twenties and thirties. Families are hunkering down, expanding the reach of their households to envelop economically vulnerable young adults. Acclaimed sociologist Katherine Newman explores the trend toward a rising number of "accordion families" composed of adult children who will be living off their parents' retirement savings with little means of their own when the older generation is gone. Newman's investigation, conducted in six countries, transports the reader into the homes of accordion families and uncovers fascinating links between globalization and the failure-to-launch trend. Newman urges Americans not to simply dismiss the boomerang generation but, rather, to strategize how we can help the younger generation make its own place in the world.
After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion
Robert Wuthnow (Princeton University Press, 2007)
Robert Wuthnow has produced an essential and important resource for understanding the lifestyles and beliefs of young adults and the impact they are having on religion. Wuthnow interprets new evidence from scores of in-depth interviews and surveys to answer the questions: What are their churchgoing habits and spiritual interests and needs? How does their faith affect their families, their communities, and their politics? Wuthnow devotes chapters to examining seven key trends in the world of young adults, who participates in congregations, recent trends in religious beliefs, spirituality and spiritual practices, faith and family, religion and public life, ethnic diversity, religious uses of the internet, and vital congregations. This book is filled with information, analysis, and implications that can shape the church’s ministry with young adults for years to come.
Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Recently the lives of people from age 18 to 29 have changed so dramatically that a new stage of life has developed, emerging adulthood, that is distinct from both the adolescence that precedes it and the young adulthood that comes in its wake. Rather than marrying and becoming parents in their early twenties, most people in industrialized societies now postpone these transitions until at least their late twenties, and instead spend the time in self-focused exploration as they try out different possibilities in their careers and relationships. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett identifies and labels, for the first time, this period of exploration, instability, possibility, self-focus, and a sustained sense of being in limbo. Marrying later and exploring more casual sexual relationships have created different hopes and fears concerning long-term commitments and the differences between love and sex. In contrast to previous portrayals of emerging adults, Arnett’s research shows that they are particularly skilled at maintaining contradictory emotions—they are confident while still being wary, and optimistic in the face of large degrees of uncertainty.
Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation
Richard Flory and Donald E. Miller (Rutgers University Press, 2008)
Sociologists Richard Flory and Donald E. Miller argue that we are on the verge of another potential revolution in how Christians worship and associate with one another. Just as the formative experiences of Baby Boomers were colored by such things as the war in Vietnam, the 1960s, and a dramatic increase in their opportunities for individual expression, so Post-Boomers have grown up in less structured households with working (often divorced) parents. These childhood experiences leave them craving authentic spiritual experience, rather than entertainment, and also cause them to question institutions. Flory and Miller develop a typology that captures four current approaches to the Christian faith and argue that this generation represents a new religious orientation of “expressive communalism,” in which they seek spiritual experience and fulfillment in community and through various expressive forms of spirituality.
The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens after High School
Tim Clydesdale (University of Chicago Press, 2007)
Based on his analysis of 125 in-depth interviews and a year of field research, in The First Year Out sociologist Tim Clydesdale describes the day-to-day lives and shared culture of American teens who graduated from high school between 1995 and 2003. Clydesdale reveals how day-to-day life consumes teens’ attention. When high school graduates make the transition to college freshmen, they must learn to adjust their lives for self-dependence and personal responsibility. Most teenagers handle this process well, learning to balance personal relationships, assimilating into popular American culture, working to fulfill financial needs and meet post-secondary educational requirements. Though teenagers are becoming self-reliant, Clydesdale explores the deeper problem teenagers face from becoming too preoccupied with their daily lives. Students have many obligations within their daily lives, and to manage these responsibilities, Clydesdale observed teenagers push aside political, religious, and racial identities in order to mold into American culture.
Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood
Christian Smith with Kari Christofferson, Hilary Davidson, & Patricia Snell Herzog
(Oxford University Press, 2011)
Life for emerging adults is vastly different today than it was for their counterparts even a generation ago. Young people are waiting longer to marry, to have children, and to choose a career direction. As a result, they enjoy more freedom, opportunities, and personal growth than ever before. But the transition to adulthood is also more complex, disjointed, and confusing. In Lost in Transition, Christian Smith and his collaborators draw on 230 in-depth interviews with a broad cross-section of emerging adults (ages 18-23) to investigate the difficulties young people face today, the underlying causes of those difficulties, and the consequences both for individuals and for American society as a whole. Rampant consumer capitalism, ongoing failures in education, hyper-individualism, postmodernist moral relativism, and other aspects of American culture are all contributing to the chaotic terrain that emerging adults must cross. Smith identifies five major problems facing very many young people today: confused moral reasoning, routine intoxication, materialistic life goals, regrettable sexual experiences, and disengagement from civic and political life. The trouble does not lie only with the emerging adults or their poor individual decisions but has much deeper roots in mainstream American culture - a culture which emerging adults have largely inherited rather than created. Older adults, Smith argues, must recognize that much of the responsibility for the pain and confusion young people face lies with them. Rejecting both sky-is-falling alarmism on the one hand and complacent disregard on the other, Smith suggests the need for what he calls "realistic concern" - and a reconsideration of our cultural priorities and practices - that will help emerging adults more skillfully engage unique challenges they face.
The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation
Thom S. Rainer & Jess W. Rainer (B&H Books/Lifeway Research, 2011)
At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials - those born between 1980 and 2000 - have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood, where the traits of a generation really take shape, best-selling research author Thom Rainer and his son Jess present the first major investigative work on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective. The Millennials is based on 1200 interviews that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer-knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), Millennials and the new workplace, their attitude toward money, the media, the environment, and perhaps most tellingly, religion. The authors close with a thoughtful response to how the church can engage and minister to what is now in fact the largest generation in America’s history.
Souls in Transition: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults
Christian Smith with Patricia Snell (Oxford University Press, 2009)
How important is religion for young people in America today? What are the major influences on their developing spiritual lives? How do their religious beliefs and practices change as young people enter into adulthood? Christian Smith’s Souls in Transition explores these questions and many others as it tells the definitive story of the religious and spiritual lives of emerging adults, ages 18 to 23, in the U.S. today. This is the follow-up study to the landmark book, Soul Searching. Based on interviews with thousands of young people tracked over a five-year period, Souls in Transition reveals how the religious practices of the teenagers portrayed in Soul Searching have been strengthened, challenged, and often changed as they have moved into adulthood. The book describes the broader cultural world of today’s emerging adults, how that culture shapes their religious outlooks, and what the consequences are for religious faith and practice in America more generally. Some of Smith’s findings are surprising. Parents turn out to be the single most important influence on the religious outcomes in the lives of young adults. On the other hand, teenage participation in evangelization missions and youth groups does not predict a high level of religiosity just a few years later. The common wisdom that religiosity declines sharply during the young adult years is shown to be greatly exaggerated. Painstakingly researched and filled with remarkable findings, Souls in Transition will be essential reading for everyone who wishes to know how religious practice is affected by the transition into adulthood in America today.
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church. . . and Rethinking Faith David Kinnaman (Baker Books, 2011)
Millions of young Christians are disconnecting from church as they transition into adulthood. Now the bestselling coauthor of unChristian reveals the results of a new nationwide study of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background. Discover why so many are disengaging from the faith community, renew your hope for how God is at work in the next generation. You Lost Me exposes ways the Christian community has failed to equip young adults to live "in but not of" the world - to follow Christ in the midst of profound cultural change. This wide-ranging study debunks persistent myths about young dropouts and examines the likely consequences for young adults and for the church if we maintain the status quo. The faith journeys of the next generation are a challenge to the established church, but they can also be a source of hope for the community of faith. Kinnaman, with the help of contributors from across the Christian spectrum, offers ideas to pass on a vibrant, lasting faith, and ideas for young adults to find themselves in wholehearted pursuit of Christ.