A consensus exists among scholars in various disciplines (e.g., sociology, psychology, anthropology) that the transition to adulthood in Western societies is more prolonged and protracted than at any previous time in history. Called youth by most sociologists and postmodernists, and emerging adulthood by some developmental psychologists, the period between adolescence and adulthood is where young people (approximately age 18–29) undergo the task of internalizing unique adult identifications and functional roles. This entry covers the changing nature of transition to adulthood and its prolongation across premodern, early modern, and late modern or postmodern societies.

Social scientists who follow the work of Erik Erikson argue the transition to adulthood is developmentally defined by identity formation, where the synthesis of values, behaviors, and identifications constitute the key progressive task ...

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