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Chapter 1

Youth & Society: Long & Winding Road - Chapter 1

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Western University
Sociology 2105A/B
Bradley Miller

Chapter 1concepts and theories y Youth subcultures including music and peer based social activities often perceived as threateningy Tendency in media and among general public either to vilify youth or to blame them andor their families for their plighto The views presented in media both shape and reflect generally accepted public opinionsy Notions of youth often based on misreading of studies and stats or a misdirection of attentiony Aim of the book move away from dealing w youth as the problem to addressing the social economic and political circumstances that are problematicDefining youth y Worldwide distinct lack of consistency in defining category of youth great variety signifies both the fluidity of age categories and degree to which they are contested globally y UN defined youth as those between 15 and 25 thus overlaps with childhood anyone under 18y Distinctions bw childhood adolescence and youth are ambiguous based on historically and geographically specific usagey Term presently refers to anyone from age 1018 interchanged with term teen or those 1319 y Some have taken extreme position that new info and communication tech bred the kind of extreme consumerism that defines everyone from childhood upwards in a state of perpetual adolescencey emerging adulthood characterizes industrialized societies in NA Europe Australia new Zealand and japanalso called postmodern youtho Emerging adults experimenting w life chances in relatinoships work education and world views moving towards full adulthood y Term youth is a wider and more ephemeral concept in non western societies starting in some cases as early as 5 and stretching til age 35 based on political and economic conditions y Increasing numbers of youth researchers try to avoid defining youth as strictly specific age categoriesy Preference to define youth as not a particular age range but as a social status characterized by a period of life in which a person is either partly or fully dependent on others for material supportTheories of youth y Dominant western ideology youth is most wonderful carefree stage of our lives time to gradually develop a distinct identity and place in societyy Conservative theories conformity o Rooted in social Darwinism o New stage of youth presumably developed out of specific biological imperatives of maturation o Developmental stage involves biologically driven disruptive elements hormonal hurricanes as young people learn to adapt to environmento Age strata such as adolescence or youth seen to be beneficial adaptation to new environmental conditions functionalist theories see it as aa necessary stage of life characterized by preparation to meet diverse societal needs Eg industrialism seen to have created need for longer stage of preparationAs service economy expanded youth became institutionalized as stage for education and preparation for demands of new economy y Functionalist theory mirrors common everyday approach to adolescence and youth generally accepeted that prolonged education is necessary
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