Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Maturation and Personhood in Wellington, New Zealand and Shizuoka, Japan

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posted on 2021-11-08, 22:13 authored by Theng, Judith Helen

This thesis is a comparative study of maturation and personhood in two modern societies: Wellington, New Zealand and Shizuoka, Japan. It examines the interrelations between cultural and ideological constraints and pragmatic choice in the maturation of young people. It explores how concepts of personhood and 'becoming a person' affect the decisions and choices made by young people of senior high school age and upward as they negotiate transitions toward fuller social personhood. It demonstrates how modernity carries different implications for young people in Wellington and Shizuoka despite large areas of commonality. In terms of the current debate concerning the nature of modernity, it is supportive of multiple modernities. The thesis argues that 'becoming adult' is central to young people's maturation in Wellington whereas in Shizuoka maturation involves sequential transitions through time. The different perceptions of 'adulthood' in Wellington and of transitional change in Shizuoka are analysed in relation to a number of themes. These themes include ideas of the self/person, the significance of gender, concepts of independence, and relations between self and others; the importance of school, part-time work, tertiary education, employment and careers; and orientations toward the family, leaving home, marriage and the future. The thesis argues that the distinctiveness of each society may be found at the interface between sociocultural knowledge of what makes a person and the construction of self. It suggests that the direction of transformations in each society results from choices and decisions that attempt to reconcile socoiocultural ideals and personal desires. This approach is one that leads to a better appreciation of fundamental differences between modern societies.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Social and Cultural Studies


Sissons, Jeff; Williams, Gwyn