Disruptions and continuities in young peoples’ transitions to adulthood

Anna-Marie Herdtle, PhD student, University of Luxemburg, Luxemburg 

The aim of this presentation is to reconstruct how young people in foster care experience continuities and/or disruptions during their transitions to adulthood. Combining an understanding of identity as an ongoing process aiming at the reconciliation between inner and outer exigencies which can be quite contradictory (cf. Keupp et al. 1999) and a relational-transactional perspective of agency (cf. Emirbayer & Mische 1998), we will reconstruct how young people shape their transitions from foster care to adulthood. First results show how continuities and/or disruptions impact young people’s identity constructions and can be linked to specific forms of agency influencing the young people’s pathways and decisions during their transition to adulthood. We will discuss in which situations continuities and disruptions can be seen as a supporting or a hindering factor for a successful transition to adulthood.        This presentation is based on the findings of a PhD-thesis within the project TransCare at the University of Luxemburg, focussing on the transitions from foster care to adulthood. The presented data is collected within the framework of a qualitative, longitudinal study. The results of 6 semi-structured interviews with young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood will be presented. In order to reconstruct the process of transition, the interviews are conducted at three different times: 6 months before, soon after and 9 months after the young people attain majority and/or leave their foster families.

Key-words: transition, adulthood, identity, agency

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