Becoming an Adult through Adversity: Young People’s Stories of the Transition to Adulthood

Prof Doc Thesis

Roswess-Bruce, N. 2022. Becoming an Adult through Adversity: Young People’s Stories of the Transition to Adulthood. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsRoswess-Bruce, N.
TypeProf Doc Thesis


The transition to adulthood is positioned as a crucial developmental process within the human lifespan (Brown, 2018), that research suggests has become increasingly more difficult and prolonged for the population of British youth, consequent to shifts in their social and economic context (Roberts & Lawrence, 2017). These trends are more prominent for racially subjugated youth, with long term psychosocial implications for clinical psychology practice. (Mac an Ghaill & Haywood, 2005; Malek, 2011; Street et al., 2005). Despite this there is little clarity around becoming an adult from the perspectives of British Black and minority ethnic youth.


This research aims to explore the stories British Black and minority ethnic youth tell of becoming an adult in the United Kingdom (UK), and how hardship and culture feature within them.


Taking a critical realist epistemological position, this research utilised unstructured interviews, narrative artefacts and systematic narrative analysis to explore how four British Black and minority ethnic youths’, aged 20-26yrs, storied their transition to adulthood in the UK.


Overall, the findings state that the narratives British Black and ethnic minority youth use to story becoming an adult, are shaped by their historical, social, economic and cultural context.


This research provides an important insight into the intersection between hardships, culture, identity and the transition to adulthood, amongst youth from subjugated British communities. While these findings do not claim to be generalisable, they support research that states young people from racialised backgrounds experience the psychosocial difficulties that impact all young people, plus additional issues specific to their culture, race and ethnicity (Malek, 2011; Street et al., 2005). Consequently, elevating British Black, and minority ethnic youth’s stories of becoming adults within the context of their broader inequalities, is essential for providing adequate evidence-based care and support that meets their intersectional needs.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online18 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted22 Mar 2022
Deposited18 Oct 2022
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