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date: 18 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

One of the main developmental tasks in young adulthood is identity formation. From a sociocultural approach, we argue that identity formation and the learning processes involved are inextricably intertwined with the prevailing cultural orientations of a given social group in a specific historic time. The same holds true for our theories on development. In line with other scholars of the field we suggest that identity in modern Western societies is mainly achieved through self-narratives. One approach to study identity in young adults’ self-narratives is to investigate how autonomy and relatedness—two dimensions that we consider basic human needs—are negotiated in individuals’ autobiographical life stories. In particular, we propose that studying narrative self-constructions allows us to gain insights into how broader cultural orientations have been mediated through early socialization and individuals’ reflections on their early experiences.

Keywords: culture, identity, emerging adulthood, autonomy, relatedness, (post)modernity, individualization, autobiographical narratives, Germany

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