Social Change and Adolescent Developmental Tasks: The Case of Postcommunist Europe


  • We are grateful to Verona Christmas-Best and three anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

concerning this article should be addressed to Martin J. Tomasik, Department of Developmental Psychology, Institute for Psychology, University of Jena, Am Steiger 3/1, D-07743 Jena, Germany; e-mail:


Abstract— The radical political transformations of the 1990s in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, overlaid by effects of globalization and related economic crises, have had an effect on young people, particularly by changing contexts relevant for psychosocial development. According to research on major developmental tasks in adolescence, young people benefited from new freedoms, such as the open borders and advanced communication technologies, but they also faced new economic uncertainties concerning work and family for which they have tried to compensate by postponing traditional transitions to adulthood. Nevertheless, results show that the nature of the developmental tasks was not in jeopardy and that effects on development overall were moderate. This article reviews the research against the backdrop of a general model on how change at the macro level translates into individual adaptation in societies affected by the challenges of globalization, individualization, and demographic shifts.