“‘You Gotta Be Able to Pay Your Own Way’: Canadian News Media Discourse and Young Adults’ Subjectivities of Successful Adulting” – Rebecca Lennox co-authored article in the Canadian Journal of Sociology

Ph.D. student Rebecca Lennox recently co-authored an article entitled, “‘You Gotta Be Able to Pay Your Own Way: Canadian News Media Discourse and Young Adults’ Subjectivities of Successful Adulting” in the Canadian Journal of Sociology. In the article, the authors use Foucauldian Discourse Analysis to identify dominant ideals of successful adulthood as they circulate in Canadian news media and in the narratives of Canadian young adults.

Rebecca Lennox is currently in her 2nd year in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto.  Her research interests included qualitative research methods; violence against women; feminist theory and epistemology; critical realism; and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available here.

Mitchell, Barbara, and Rebecca A. Lennox. 2020. “‘You Gotta Be Able to Pay Your Own Way’: Canadian News Media Discourse and Young Adults’ Subjectivities of ‘Successful’ Adulting.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 45(3):213–237.

Youth transitions to adulthood and traditional markers of adulthood are becoming more fluid, uncertain, and extended in contemporary societies. Despite these shifts, public discourses surrounding young adult transitional trajectories are dominantly informed by a linear benchmark perspective. This framework positions establishing financial autonomy with the goal of permanently leaving the parental home as central to successful adulthood. In this paper, we integrate textual news media and interview data to critically interrogate contemporary public discourses of adulting in tandem with Canadian young adults’ subjective understandings of adulthood. We conduct Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA) using two complementary data sources: (1) a selection of Canadian news media addressing youth transitions to adulthood (n = 44), and (2) interviews with Canadian young adults, assessing their perceptions and experiences of adulthood (n = 20). Our findings reveal that media and personalized constructions of successful adulthood are synonymous with financial independence and responsibility. These social norms reflect and shape young adults’ subjective meanings of adulthood and inform the ways of being that young people imagine as ideal.