Prof. Dr. Jeffrey J. Arnett, Clark University, USA
Title of the Keynote: Emerging Adulthood, Ages 18 to 29: Cultural and International Variations
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and did three years of postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago. From 1992-1998 he was Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Missouri. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, the University of Maryland, and, most recently, Tufts University. Dr. Arnett’s primary scholarly interest is in “emerging adulthood,” the age period from the late teens to the mid-twenties (mainly ages 18-25). For over a decade he has conducted research on emerging adults concerning a wide variety of topics, involving several different ethnic groups in the United States. He also studied emerging adults in Denmark as a Fulbright Scholar in 2005. Other areas of his research are media uses in adolescence, especially music and advertising, and risk behavior in adolescence and emerging adulthood, especially cigarette smoking. In the course of his work on cigarette smoking, he has served as an expert witness against the tobacco companies in numerous court cases, including the multi-state case that led to the largest civil settlement in legal history in 1998. Dr. Arnett is the author of a book on adolescents in the heavy metal subculture, Metalheads: Heavy Metal Music and Adolescent Alienation (1996, Westview Press). He is also the author of the textbook Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Cultural Approach (Prentice Hall). His book Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens Through the Twenties, was published in 2004 by Oxford University Press. He has also edited a book on emerging adulthood (with Jennifer Tanner), Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century (2006, APA Books). Dr. Arnett is the father of twins Miles and Paris, born in 1999. His wife, Lene Jensen, is also a developmental psychologist at Clark University, specializing in moral development and in the development of cultural identity among immigrants. She herself was born in Denmark and immigrated to the United States in 1986, and the family visits Denmark every summer.
Emerging adulthood is a cultural theory of development from ages 18 to 29. This means that the theory recognizes that development always takes place in a cultural context and that cultures may vary widely in what they expect and encourage and allow from ages 18 to 29. I will briefly summarize the outlines of EA theory, including my American research, then discuss worldwide variations, focusing on demographic variations such as median ages of entering marriage and parenthood, and variations in values such as independence and interdependence. I will contrast the U.S. and Europe, then contrast patterns in the West with trends in Africa and Asia. I will also discuss the urban versus rural experience of emerging adulthood and the importance of EA as a time of urban to rural migration.