Purpose: In the educational and work commitments that carry them into adulthood, the category of youth offers a particularly useful entry into the question of the manner in which social and cultural change and continuity are reflected in personal life. In an increasingly globalized world, the spread of new media technologies and, more generally, the processes of cultural and economic globalization, bring similarities to the experiences, opportunities, and aspirations of youth around the world, even if they grow up in extremely varied contexts. Based on this premise, the paper attempts to understand the education to work transitions of 31 young people in a village in India, in a city in India and a city in the UK through the individualism-collectivism constructs in cross-cultural psychology.
Methodology: The sites were chosen to represent contexts differentially touched by the forces of economic and cultural globalization. Men and women across class were interviewed and their narratives analysed through a grounded theory framework
Findings: The study traces two broad patterns of cultural meanings, (only one of which connects Indian youth to British youth) – those related to the autonomous self and others to the heteronomous self, with differing processes of youth transitions, the actors involved, and the meanings brought to the construction of education and work.
Originality/ Value: The study design of three sites, and gender and class positions therein, rather than the usual two allows a critique of and definitional refinement of the individualism/collectivism constructs for use in cross-cultural psychological research.
Keywords: youth-transitions, identity, cultural psychology, education, work.