9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Transition to Adulthood III Building II, Auditório B2.04

(Dis)courses to adulthood: Portuguese generational differences

Mobilizing the changeable concept of adulthood, this paper presents the results of a research that aimed to identify and explain the main generational differences in courses to and of adulthood in Portugal (in a European context).
Having statistical data and literature review as the starting point of this analysis, it is fair to say that Portugal, being sub-protective or family-oriented, presents trends of transitions to adulthood that are simultaneously from, to and in the family, fact that makes the (dis)courses of family members particularly illustrative of the intergenerational differences and negotiations surrounding adulthood and of the analysis of the differences in pace, order and density of the transitional events.
The concepts of "linked lives" (Elder, 1975) and "contestable adulthood" (Horowitz and Bromnick, 2007) were very important to the analysis of the collected interviews to young adults "in transition" and their mothers or fathers, regarding the frequency, timing, overlapping and multiplication of transitional events. They allowed us to compare the "tripartition" of the biographies (Kohli,1985) to the "do-it-yourself biographies" (Beck-Gernsheim, 2002), giving special attention to the fragmentation and reversibility of current transitions to adulthood.
The transitional events considered were: graduating (and going back to school), leaving home (and going back), finding a job (with interruptions), living with a partner (and alone), getting married (and divorced) and having children. We also analysed changes in the density of demographic events that characterises the period of "transition" to adulthood. More over, the discourses (collected through interviews but having a biographical character) provided several clues for the understanding of the negotiation of the adult status within the "Portuguese family".