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Abstract

This paper disputes the theory of universal stages of development (often called the epigenetic principle) asserted by Erikson (1963; 1982; 1997) and later developed in detail by Newman & Newman (1987, p. 33). It particularly disputes that there are clear stages of adolescence (12-18), late adolescence (18-22), old age (60-75), and very old age (75+). Data from twelve communities around the world suggest that the concept of adolescence is socially constructed in each local setting, and that the concept of late adolescence is totally absent in some communities. Further, the stage of old age (60-75) is much shorter in some communities, and that the stage of very old age (75+) is not found at all in some communities.

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