The postmodern era has an impact on different dimensions of the contemporary young adult’s
social functioning which incorporates perceptions regarding religion and formal structures.
This contemporary young adult refers to an individual between the ages of 18 and 25 years.
Therefore the goal of this article was to report on research results regarding the perceptions of
young adults on religion and formal structures. Within a mixed methods research approach, the
exploratory mixed methods research design was utilised. Qualitative data was collected from
47 young adults by means of focus group interviewing. Quantitative data was collected from
1019 respondents utilising a questionnaire. Both groups were selected through the utilisation
of purposive sampling. Qualitative data were analysed through thematic analysis, whilst a
range of descriptive and inferential statistical procedures was used to analyse quantitative
data. The findings indicated that the postmodern young adult displays a tendency to value
conventional religious norms and practices, but the element of choice is of importance, as
young adults seem to choose the aspects of religion that suit them. An increased interest
in and a need for spirituality or a form of transcendence was found. Guidance by formal
structures was favoured, but did not necessarily refer to ‘church’ or religious structures. The
results illustrated that the contemporary young adult explores and experiments in terms of
identity and lifestyle. Views and values seem to be person-specific and based on emotions and
experiences with a tendency towards ‘own authority’ and an emphasis on the self. The rise of
individualism which characterises the postmodern era has led to the creation of meaning by
drawing on personal resources and on own personal moral beliefs and values.
H.H. (University of Pretoria) wrote this article as part of the
requirements for a DPhil (Social Work) and was supervised
by C.S.L.D. (University of Pretoria). (http://hdl.handle.net/2263/32395)