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Transitions to adulthood in rural villages during the transition from communism in the South Caucasus

Tholen, Jochen and Khachatryan, Gohar and Velidze, Rusudan and Pollock, Gary and Roberts, Ken (2008) Transitions to adulthood in rural villages during the transition from communism in the South Caucasus.

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Abstract

This paper presents evidence from interviews with 31–37 year olds during 2007/08 in rural villages in Aran-Mugan (Azerbaijan), Kotayk (Armenia), and Shida Kartli (Georgia). Profiles of transitions to adulthood during the regions’ transitions from communism are sketched from quantitative surveys of representative samples of around 200 respondents per region. However, the core evidence is from 10 unstructured, in-depth interviews that were designed to reveal the processes, the mixtures of choice and constraint, that had shaped different life histories. The evidence shows that despite the shortages of formal employment in all the regions, most of the young adults had been working continuously since leaving education. Men worked for money, or worked at finding work. Women’s work was usually a combination of housework, child and elder care, and farm work. Second, the paper explains how and why traditional family practices and patterns are surviving under post-communism in rural villages. Third, the difficulties that must be overcome to move to cities in search of better jobs are revealed. These difficulties, and the lives that are available in the countryside, explain why there have not been mass exoduses of young people from all villages. Finally, the paper comments on the disjuncture between curricula in education and the real working lives that have been, and are still available for village youth.

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