An Unexpected Journey
This introductory chapter first sets out the book's purpose, which is to make sense of the first year out, for various sorts of teens, who head off into various settings, and who thus discover important things about themselves and the world. The book finds that most of the mainstream American teens neither liberated themselves intellectually nor broadened themselves socially during their first year out. Rather, most teens settled all the more comfortably into the patterns and priorities they formed earlier in their lives. What teens actually focused on during the first year out was this: daily life management. That is, they managed their personal relationships—with romantic partners, friends, and authority figures; they manage personal gratifications— including substance use and sexual activity; and they manage their economic lives—with its expanding necessities and rising lifestyle expectations. The chapter then discusses how popular American moral culture fosters teen preoccupation with daily life.
Keywords: American teenagers, daily life management, personal relationships, personal gratifications, economic lives, moral culture