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Feb 2, 2012
Week 4: Constructing Youth
Main points
Adolescence, teenager and youth are distinct yet overlapping concepts
Adolescence and teenagehood are often pathologized
There are different perspectives explaining adolescence, teenager and youth
Socio-cultural theorists tend to see these as context-specific, social concepts
Do youth, adolescence and teenager refer to a stage of life that was already there,
waiting to be discovered or explained? Or do they refer to a stage of life created
within a certain context?
I/ Defining terms
Youth: linked to official age range 12-34. In Ontario its referred to as 14-24. Royal
bank ranges it from 15-25.
Early 20th century: first used to refer to young people around 10-18
-Concerns about young people
-Concerns about future: of nation, young people thought about as representing
the future.
-Rise in ‘psi’ discipline: psychology, sociology, etc. Interested in studying
populations particularly in students attending schooling
Stanley G. Hall: prominent psychologist. Published book called “adolescence” and
was a key way to remember young people.
-Embedded in the individual: talked about adolescence not as a group of
But as a concept/idea.
-Problem/difficult: source of the problem was not seen socially as much as it
was seen in the individual.
-Sexuality as concern: he was concerned about teens having sexual urges and
advocated the need to suppress these urges and sublimate them into studies.
There were also about masculinity, his work focused a lot on boys and the
beginnings of the boy scouts movement. He had the desire to make sure that
the nation was creating manly men.
Teenage-hood: first started introducing idea of a teenager in mid 1930’s
Post World War 2: at this time teens had significant work, jobs in the home and
outside the home. They had a lot of freedom. When the war ended, there was concern
about this freedom they had. There was a push for domesticity in the home due to
threat of communism and sexuality that was to corrupt the young people. Desire to
control young people.
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Link to consumption: shifting out of processes of production. Teens and younger
children can be seen as different from each other. Specific places for teens to go
(diners, movie theatres, parking), consumer goods, and wealth is channeled into
young people.
II/ Psychological adolescence
- A distinct period, were not big kids or little adults
- Risk Taking
Look to the Science of Adolescence
- brains work differently at this stage in life for they are not fully developed
The process of Adolescence
The notion of “becoming” an adult
- Period of becoming ‘something’
- Period of trouble, or notion of a problem for society… a problem for adults.
- Why do we have the perception of adolescence as a problem?
JKM’s Adolescence
Stanley Hall’s “problem
- Controlled: by parents. Had the notion that we should be becoming an adult.
- Rebelled: opposite of trying to become an adult.
Why did I “rebel”?
Traditional Developmental Psychology proposes an answer for this question
Freud - Id vs Ego
Coming into adolescence a child is in the “latency” stage – Id and Ego are
“balanced” and one feels calm. Freud says there is naturally a conflict, working
themselves out until they are balanced and calmness is met.
Adolescents is the “genital” stage
- Bombarded with instinctual “urges”
- An internal struggle between Id and Super Ego
So the process of adolescence is one of great internal stress
Also a time of struggle; conflict happens when the surrounding culture (parents)
don’t allow you to develop your identity … experiment, explore, attempt, etc. are all
parts of forming identity.
- To form one’s “identity
- Breaking away from identity of parents
Truly a time of “becoming
- Parental role is supporting
If “becoming” isn’t support, difficulties may arise
Also a time of “becoming”
Adolescence is a time to develop “abstract thinking” skills
- Parental role is to support this
Conflict arises if society (parents) force their own way of thinking about a situation
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