Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Patricia S. Herzog

Committee Member

Shauna A. Morimoto

Second Committee Member

Lori Holyfield


Social sciences, Psychology, Emerging adulthood, National study of youth and religion, Social class, Transition to adulthood


What does the transition to adulthood look like for emerging adults? This study proposes that popular cultural ideas like "failure to launch" imply an oversimplified dichotomy that does not account for the multiple "flight patterns" into adulthood. Focusing on the narratives of six interview cases selected from the larger sample of interviewees from Wave 4 of the National Study of Youth and Religion and drawing on the quantitative data from the broader survey sample, this mixed-methods approach examines in-depth, narrative experiences and the ways structural barriers vary between upper-middle, lower-middle, and working class emerging adults. We find that emerging adulthood is not a purely middle class phenomenon but that varying flight patterns do emerge based on Social class background, specifically in terms of access to economic and Social resources. Results indicate that working class emerging adults often psychologically enter adulthood sooner than middle class emerging adults but struggle longer to achieve socioeconomic stability, while middle class emerging adults have access to socioeconomic resources but often spend longer periods without psychological clarity.