Return mobilities and Italian youth transitions: new meanings around adulthood

Giulia Marchetti, Anita Harris, Loretta Baldassar, Shanthi Robertson

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Part of a larger ethnographic study on Italian youth mobilities, this paper investigates the transitions to adulthood of young returnees who have gone back to Italy after a period of living and working in Australia. Adopting the 'mobile transitions' approach, we illustrate the ways in which mobility affects transitions to adulthood. We suggest that upon return these transitions unfold like a palimpsest, where the old texts are layered over with new ones, unsettling conventions about adult life and disrupting assumptions that return is a final stage in the transition process. New meanings around adulthood emerge in these young Italians' mobile experience that continue also after return. We explore this through their aspirations for the future and their renegotiation of family relationships. Return for these young movers means bringing home a new perception of their current and future selves and especially of their role within their family of origin and Italian social and political culture. This is significant if we consider that Italy is the 'country of the long family' (Cavalli, A. 1997. "La lunga transizione all'eta adulta." In Giovani del nuovo secolo. Quinto rapporto IARD sulla condizione giovanile in Italia, edited by C. Buzzi, A. Cavalli, and A. De Lillo, 38-45. Bologna: Il Mulino), where the youth condition is characterized by a delayed acquisition of autonomy and the consequent late assumption of responsibility and adult roles.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2022


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