Imagined adulthood: resources, plans and contradictions

Thomson, Rachel and Holland, Janet (2002). Imagined adulthood: resources, plans and contradictions. Gender and Education, 14(4) pp. 337–350.



In this paper we illustrate the contradictory consequences of female individualization by exploring young people’s imagined futures, drawing on an analysis of ‘lifelines’ collected as part of an ongoing longitudinal qualitative study of young people’s transitions to adulthood. We discuss the method and compare lifelines across the sample. We suggest that while there are areas of consensus (such as the hetero-normative goal of marriage and children by 35) the traditionally gendered transitions to adulthood are under pressure, a pressure that is exerted most strongly by working class young people. Through three contrasting case studies we illustrate how the ways in which young people imagine their futures are constrained by the resources and possibilities of their particular social locations.

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