Identifying the Five Faces of Adultism: A Grounded Theory Study of Youths’ Perceptions of Age-Based Oppression Across Systems

Group of young people at sunset.

Help facilitate focus groups to explore how young people experience the intersectional and contextual nuances of age-based oppression and discrimination.

Project description

Despite some recent studies of how adultism (i.e., age-based oppression or discrimination against young people) hampers youths’ abilities to connect with adult caregivers and professionals and the emergence of possible anti-adultist approaches to youth work, adultism has yet to be fully theorized.
A detailed, ground-up understanding of adultism, including its multiple dimensions and forms, is crucial to the design and delivery of effective interventions with youth. Equipped with youth perspectives of how adultism affects their engagement with programs and providers, it will be possible to reduce structural adultism and implicit adultist bias and strengthen youth services.

To that end, the purpose of the current study is to construct a grounded theory of perceived adultism that accounts for how adultism varies or remains consistent across diverse contexts, including services for youth in foster care (YFC) and runaway and homeless youth (RHY), community-based youth programs, schools, and families. Study findings promise to shed light on how adultism functions within various settings and will serve as the necessary foundation for future research, including the development of a perceived adultism scale.

Project outcome

Students will be invited to participate in the dissemination of study findings (e.g., presenting at conferences, co-authoring publications).

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Semester long (about 3-5 months)
Start time Fall 2022
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Small group project (3-4 students)
Benefits Research experience; academic credit
Who is eligible All undergraduate students, especially those with backgrounds in social work, sociology, psychology

Project mentor

Seventy Hall

Graduate Student

School of Social Work

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  1. Among the options listed on the website, choose “SBIRB –the social/humanistic/behavioral course.”
  2. Students need to choose three courses (“Social & Behavioral Research Investigators,” “Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research course,” and “Conflicts of Interest”).
  3. When all institutional requirements are met, including the minimal aggregate score requirement, you will be able to download your completion reports from the My Reports menu. These courses are required for the student to be added to the IRB protocol for this project. 
  • The CITI component will be further clarified through discussions with the project mentor.


School of Social Work