“First Principles”: Components, Holism, and Context of the Transition to Adulthood

  • Ross MacmillanEmail author
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI, volume 2)


This chapter draws upon Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ concept of “first principles” to analyze contemporary perspectives on the transition to adulthood. The idea of first principles directs attention at both the fundamental features of the life course, notably social roles, and the complex of role combinations within and across time that reveal distinct pathways into adulthood. By extension, it also directs attention to the logic and meaning that particular pathways have for individuals and the motives and rationales that individuals have for choosing particular pathways over others. Finally, it suggests the need for direct understanding of the implications of particular pathways for the unfolding life course at a psychological level, an institutional level, and a population level. In the end, such a view suggests the need for greater attention to synthesis, interconnection, and understanding of the transition to adulthood, how it is produced, and what it means, personally and socially, for individuals in contemporary society.


Civic Engagement Independent Living Social Investment Public Issue Fundamental Building Block 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Institutional Analysis and Public ManagementUniversità commerciale Luigi BocconiBocconiItaly

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