The Boomerang Age: Transitions to Adulthood in Families

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9780202308388: The Boomerang Age: Transitions to Adulthood in Families

* The Boomerang Age was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2007 by Choice Magazine.

Domestic changes are taking place in the lives of young adults in Western industrialized societies. Today's young people often experience less permanency and more movement in a variety of family-related roles, statuses, and living arrangements. Among the most prominent changes is the phenomenon of "boomerang kids," young adults returning to the parental home after their initial entrance into the adult world. The Boomerang Age, explores the implications of this development in a changing sociocultural, economic, and demographic landscape.

Mitchell begins by addressing definitional, conceptual, and measurement issues relevant to the "boomerang age." She then places the issues in historical perspective by considering trends in family organization--the nuclear family, marriage and divorce rates and fertility--over the past hundred years with emphasis on the 1950s family as a cultural benchmark. The book then turns to the contemporary trajectory of home leaving and returning, analyzing the "launch" and return phases with regard to economic factors, regional differences, and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Mitchell then explores the more personal dimensions of how a return to the family is complicated by partnership (marriage, divorce, cohabitation, homosexuality) and parenthood among young couples. Moving outside the home, she looks at how public issues such as globalization, the decline of the welfare state, and various forms of social inequality affect the circumstances of young adulthood. Here Mitchell offers specific social policy recommendations pertaining to education, housing and dependency issues, childcare, and gender and racial equality. The book concludes by critically evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of two possible future scenarios: increased individualization in the pursuit of social goals, or a more or less permanent return to the traditional, extended family.

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About the Author:

Barbara A. Mitchell is associate professor in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology and the Department of Gerontology at Simon Fraser University.

Review:

* The Boomerang Age was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2007 by Choice Magazine.

“Outstanding Title! Mitchell (Simon Fraser Univ.) offers an excellent examination of how transitions to adulthood in today's ever-changing world compare with those of past cultures and other industrialized societies. Working from an international perspective, Mitchell uses current data and a life course focus to examine family issues such as children moving away and toward the family home, cohabitation, and marital formation and dissolution. She also does an excellent job of examining these changes from both macro and micro perspectives and linking her analysis to social policy implications. In short, this book has it all--a timely topic, a thorough analysis, a theoretical application, and suggestions for both policy and the future. An important addition to any class on the family. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.” 

—L. Wolfer, Choice

"Adult children's return to their home of origin after a hiatus of a few years away, whether after college, military service, or even work, seems a new phenomenon that has attracted attention from the media....Mitchell embeds the boomerang age within the context of increasing individualism and secularism in both North American and European countries as well as in the context of many other ethnic and cultural changes....Mitchell does not leave any stone unturned...extremely detailed and well-documented."

Luciano L'Abate, Contemporary Psychology

"Barbara Mitchell's excellent book... is likely to spark a renewed interest in the life course approach among people who study families, and a renewed interest in families among people who study macro structural change. I look forward to reading the scholarly exchange that will follow the publication of this book"

—Lorne Tepperman, professor of sociology, University of Toronto

"This book has it all--a timely topic, a thorough analysis, a theoretical application, and suggestions for both policy and the future. An important addition to any class on the family."

L. Wolfer, University of Scranton

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