Rethinking the Quarterlife Crisis: Expected Geographic Mobility among Young Adults in Flanders, Belgium and Upstate New York
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In the United States, the concept of quarterlife crisis is an increasingly recognized social phenomenon. However, much about this dynamic period in the life course, and its impact on individuals remains undocumented. For example, how does the quarterlife transition inform individuals? expectations about their future geographic mobility? It is important to ascertain whether the quarterlife experience is salient across national boundaries, and whether it has a similar impact on the expectations of young adults in various cultural contexts. Cross-cultural findings could yield valuable data for policy-makers or employers aiming to attract or retain young adults within a specific region. To explore the universality of quarterlife transition, I compare the expected geographic mobility of college students preparing to graduate in two different regions: Flanders, Belgium, which is characterized by retention of young adults, and upstate New York, which has seen immense out-migration of young adults in recent decades. Interviews conducted with graduating college students in both locales provide a foundation of qualitative data. To understand the personal allegories and stories that individuals shared with me, I apply an analytical thematic framework rooted in sociological life-course theory. Life-Span Development, Agency, Time and Place, Timing, Linked Lives comprise the five paradigmatic principles used to create a comparison of young adults in Flanders and upstate New York. This rubric sheds lights on similarities as well as several important differences in how individuals experience the quarterlife transition in different regions and which factors inform their expectations about future geographic mobility.
quarterlife crisis; life course; expected geographic mobility; upstate New York; flanders; graduation; young adults
dissertation or thesis