out that new ideological and political priorities were set on the agenda in the 1980s. Keynesian demand management policies were rejected, full employment in the Keynesian sense was abandoned, the neo-coporatist model came under pressure, and several economic regulations were removed (Furre, 1991:421-24). The system of economic policies, which was implemented during the 1950s and 1960s, came under increasing pressure and broke down due to problems internal to the system and external conditions (Mjøset, 1989 and Fagerberg et al., 1992).
Although the the two ‘time diagnoses’ express quite opposite views, there seems to be a certain agreement that we are in an ongoing process of economic, social and cultural transformations. The relation between social class and action appears more complex than in early modernity. New identities cut across the old class identities, and class politics dissolve into plural politics. The world seems more unruly than in the first two decades after the Second World War. Global movement of money and capital together with changes in technology and methods of production are making it more difficult for the nation-states to control their economies and keep unemployment at a low level. Where these transformations will lead to is still open to debate, but they no doubt provide a new setting in which individuals take up options and attempt to accommodate to choices and outcomes. Transitions to adulthood will most likely operate and be patterned according to these altered societal contexts. Although institutions and actors have not changed at the same pace as the ideological and political contexts, the ground may be prepared for changes to come.
New transitions to adulthood?
We may ask if we already are witnessing new transitions emerging from the historical changes in the 1980s. The data from Norway shows the same pattern as in other Western countries. Young people are receiving more formal education than ever, yet unemployment has risen to levels unknown in the post-war period, while out-of-school youths are drifting in and out of jobs and in and out of education. Although extended education may be interpreted as a formalisation of the life course, the general picture is one of diversification and informalisation. Family life is more diverse and informal (cohabitation instead of marriage), and educational and occupational careers are less stable and more individualised than some years ago.
In the first decades of the post-war era, young people’s careers tended to be either ‘protracted’ or ‘accelerated’ (Roberts, 1968). Early entry into employment gave young people economic independence, and thus an opportunity to accelerate the transition to full