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James Cote (33)
Chapter 4

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Sociology 2105A/B
James Cote

CRITICAL YOUTH STUDIES Ch: 4-The Conquest of Youth: Survival of the Fittest in a Corporate Culture - transition to adulthood is often structured on the needs and affluence of the culture in question - cultures that need the labour contribution of all its members will recruit directly from children to adulthood- therefore no or little period of adolescence like in our Western society - these cultures use puberty rites or other rites of passage to quickly confer adult status- es - therefore, transition is straightforward and clear definition of roles - if a culture is going through a rapid change that creates social instability, difference in values, etc., ambivalence towards youth can occur esp. when adults are ambiguous to- wards their own roles in this changing world - this consequently makes the youth view the adult world as in disarray and be less like- ly to value it or hurry to move towards it, these processes combined are referred to as the generation gap - if the cultural ethos is predominantly one of an individualist survival of the fittest men- tality, the young will tend to be judged in terms of having to stand alone - therefore, adults who are more self-interested will tend to be rejecting of the young and less sympathetic towards their cause - collectivist societies, however, will tend to be supportive of their young in exchange for their agreement to participate in society in ways defined by adults (taking active roles, working) - late-modern societies- contemporary western societies, sociologists examine the ways in which the institutions of traditional Western culture have become destructed and fragmented - in late-modern societies, many people have little guidance from their families or orga- nized religion when dealing with fragmented transitions between institutional contexts like educational institutions and the workplace--> crisis of meaning - the transition of adulthood can be seen as a pulse of a society- how the young are treated tells us much about a society The Individualization of Identities: Freedom or Obstacle? - individualism currently highly valued in Western Society- people forget the collectivism of earlier Western societies that predate the era of modern capitalism, therefore believ- ing that it has always been this way - individualism involves freedom from normative constraints, not freedoms to pursue ac- tivities independent of systemic barriers like racial and gender discrimination and social class advantage - moreover, the freedom to individualize has emerged because of a lack of structure, which can create serious challenges for some people, whereas persisting social stratifi- cation along class, race, and gender lines presents too much unwanted structure for those placed at a disadvantage because of those structures - freedom without normative structure (guidance) can lead to people exercising the choice to pursue a lifestyle totally devoid of traditional social markers, with or without ex- erting much mental effort- done by selecting default options now available in popular culture, as in the imitation of the latest fashion and music trends - this is following the paths of least resistance and effort - epistemological fallacy: ideology of free choice concerning things like education and consumption can obscure many of the old barriers that keep people of lower economic origins and minorities from actually making certain choices (Furlong & Cartmel) - Schwartz argues that Western societies now present people with a tyranny of freedom and choice that actually decreases their quality of life and diminishes their life chances - 90% of students in first yr of high school expect to go on to a postsecondary educa- tion, while only 0.1% expects not to finish secondary school - reality is 10-20% will drop out of high school, and fewer than half will complete some form of higher education - therefore, something is dreadfully wrong in the relationship between the beliefs stu- dents adopt as a basis for future choice-making and the realities they face - the reality is that only 16% of jobs in the Canadian economy require university creden- tials- if students knew this they could make better choices concerning future - what some people who advocate the middle-class model of career success do not re- alize is that many of the skilled trades jobs pay much more than lower- and middle-level white collar jobs - since people value middle-class white collar jobs as the true marker of success, young people are discouraged from pursuing jobs in the trades, being directed away from more direct and earlier trajectories to financial independence - this is evident as skilled blue-collar occupations are finding it hard to recruit new mem- bers from young people; ratio of younger to older trades workers is declining- average age of entering an apprenticeship is 27, compared to a country like Germany, which incorporates apprenticeships into its secondary education - far more people being pushed into higher educational programs for extrinsic reasons- to qualify for white-collar jobs - for middle-class, university attendance has now become a sort of rite of passage, with most parents assuming their child will attend, even if they didnt themselves - difference from a generation ago is that now many with university credentials only qualify for lower-level white collar positions whose job titles have been changed to add prestige to the jobs, but little actual change in skill level required for them - for lower-class, little option other than to attend community college if they want to go straight into workforce - young people are now less free and less self-determining when it comes to educational options, than the generations that came of age in the 20th century - uni is now more grade and career oriented, people dont attend for an intrinsic reward of higher learning - values of being well off financially and developing a meaningful life philosophy have traded places as top priorities since the 1960s -
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