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Xiaoling Shu and Margaret M Marini (2008)

Coming of age in changing times: Occupational aspirations of American youth, 1966-1980

Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 26(1):29--55.

Young people in the United States are driven by an ideology of high achievement and hold ambitious occupational aspirations, yet little is known about the process by which they negotiate social conditions to come to terms with life's limitations. We use a life-course perspective to examine change in prestige, education, earning potential, and sex type dimensions in occupational aspirations in the U.S., using longitudinal data on cohorts of young people ages 14-29 during the period between 1966 and 1980. After their initial formation in childhood and adolescence, occupational aspirations are regulated by experiences in the educational system, the labor market, and for women, the adult family. The Civil Rights and the Women's Movements contributed to age-, cohort-, and period-related increases in women and black men's occupational aspirations. The economic downturn after 1973 also played a role, reducing young men's occupational aspirations and reverting black men's aspirations to the same level as that prior to the 1970s, negating the positive influences of the Civil Rights Movement. There is no evidence that the Vietnam War produced a net change in young people's aspirations. These findings show that after their initial formation under ascriptive influences, occupational aspirations continue to evolve as new life experiences associated with changed societal values and opportunity structure provide impetus for change. Despite these perturbations, socioeconomic background, race, and gender retain a pervasive impact on the regulation of young people's aspirations in adolescent and young adulthood in the United States. [Copyright 2007 Elsevier Ltd.]

Occupational aspirations, Labor market, Life course, Age-cohort-period effects, Women's Movement, Civil Rights Movement, *Occupations, *Womens Rights, *Civil Rights, *Goals, *Social Movements, *United States of America, *Life Events, *Social Change, article, 0621: complex organization; jobs, work organization, workplaces, & unions
SubjectsTermNotLitGenreText - *Occupations; *Goals; *Life Events; *Civil Rights; *Womens Rights; *United States of America; *Social Change; *Social Movements

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