Postmodernism affects views and lifestyles, which in turn determine how an individual fulfils his roles, meets his needs, and grows and adjusts in his different systems. The nature of this impact on the social functioning of young adults from an ecological systems perspective is relevant for the social work profession and to social work practitioners working with young adults. Discovering more about this impact therefore formed the rationale for this study.
In this study, the mixed methods research approach was utilised seeing that it comprises both a qualitative and a quantitative component which, when mixed, provided a comprehensive analysis of the research problem.
Young adults’ experiences and views of postmodern society could be considered as phenomena in the ‘real world’ which necessitated a qualitative approach to this study. In order to claim scientific accuracy, the impact had to be quantified. This implied measurement within a quantitative approach in order to produce precise and generalisable statistical findings.
The researcher started the empirical study with the qualitative approach. In this manner, rich data could be obtained to assist in the compilation of suitable questions to construct a questionnaire. Sequential timing, within the exploratory mixed methods design, with the qualitative data collected and analysed first, followed by the quantitative data, therefore allowed for the one dataset to build upon the other. Mixing the datasets by means of an exploratory mixed methods research design provided a better understanding of the problem than if either dataset had been used alone. Exploratory factor analysis was used to reduce the data and promote the measurement of the impact of postmodernism.
From the conclusions it is apparent that global issues observed in the macrosystem affect all the ecological systems and impact the social functioning of the young adult. The reciprocal impact of people and environmental systems on the social functioning of young adults within a postmodern paradigm was evident in this research.
Personal experiences were highly valued, as well as a tendency towards ‘own authority’. Postmodernism affects views and lifestyles, which in turn affects the young adult’s performance of roles and his interactions within all his different social systems. A strong attachment to family and home, as well as the importance of roles as sons/daughters were found. It was found that young adults focus on ‘the self’ and on own needs and satisfactions, with contrasting views on the significance of formal structures, image and consumerism, (electronic) communication and interaction, diversity and personal future. Views regarding an uncertain future and personal roles evolve and change constantly, depending on social and economic factors. An increase in a need for spirituality in postmodern times was found.
The contemporary young adult between the ages of 18 and 25 years explores and experiments in terms of identity and lifestyle. Thinking, questioning, feeling and a strong focus on ‘self’ characterise this young adult. Views and values seem to be person-specific and based on emotions and experiences.