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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Reading Notes.odt

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Diane Glebe

READING NOTES Chapter 3: SOCIALTRANSITIONS Social Redefinition and Psychosocial Development • Social redefinition is the process through which an individual's position or status is redefined by society • Changes in social definition – in how society views the individual – constitute a third set of fundamental changes that define adolescence • Although societies vary in how the transition from childhood to adulthood is signified, all cultures have some way of recognizing that the individual's rights and responsibilities have changed once he or she becomes an adult • Changes in social definition may have profound effects on development in the reals of identity, autonomy, intimacy, sexuality, and achievement The Elongation of Adolescence • Adolescence lasts longer today than ever before, because young people go through puberty later ◦ The length of adolescence has increased due to earlier onset of puberty and the prolongation of formal education, which delays many of the role transitions that mark the beginning of adulthood • The passage from adolescence into adulthood is much more difficult for young people growing up in poverty ◦ Social institutions that once enabled poor youth to make a successful transition to adulthood no longer provide sufficient support • Many observers of adolescence in contemporary society believe that the transition into adulthood is too long, too vague, and too disorderly that this has had harmful effects on adolescents' development and well-being, especially those from whom formal schooling is not a fulfilling experience Adolescence as a Social Invention • Inventionists point out that although the biological and cognitive changes characteristic of the period are important in their own right, adolescence is defined primarily by the ways in which society recognizes (or does not recognize) the period as distinct from childhood or adulthood The “Invention” of Adolescence • According to the inventionist view, adolescence as we know it in contemporary society th didn't really exist until the Industrial Revolution of the mid-19 century • The main distinction between a child and adult was based not on their age or their abilities but on whether they owned property • The Impact of Industrialization ◦ With industrialization came new patterns of work, education, and family life ◦ Because the economy was changing so rapidly, parents encouraged adolescents to spend time within societal institutions instead of working side by side with their parents ▪ One way of protecting adults jobs was to remove adolescents from the labor force and have turn them into full-time students ▪ Society began discriminating individuals who were “ready” for work • Society began to view adolescence as less capable and more in need of guiding and training ◦ Child protectionists argued that young people need to be kept away from the labor force for their own good • The Origins ofAdolescence as We Know It Today th ◦ It was not until the late 19 century (100 years ago) that adolescence came to be viewed as it is today: ▪ Alengthy period of preparation for adulthood, in which young people, in need of guidance and supervision, remain economically dependent on their elders ▪ The view started in the middle class where parents had more to gain by keeping their children out of the labor force and educating them for a better adulthood ◦ Two modifications of adolescence gave rise to new terminology and ideas ▪ Teenager is a term popularized about 50 years ago to refer to young people; it connoted a more frivolous and lighthearted image than did “adolescent” • Aresult of increased affluence and economic freedom ▪ Youth, a term used to refer to individuals ages 18-22; it once referred to individuals ages 12-24 Emerging Adulthood: A new Stage of Life or Luxury of the Middle Class? • The transition to adulthood has become so delayed in many industrialized societies that some have suggested that there is a new stage in life – emerging adulthood – that may last up until mid-20s • JeffreyArnett: Characterized by five main features: ◦ The exploration of possible identities before making enduring choices ◦ Instability in work, romantic relationships, and living arrangements ◦ Afocus on oneself and, in particular, on functioning as an independent person ◦ The subjective feeling of being between adolescence and adulthood ◦ The subjective sense that life holds many possibilities • Is EmergingAdulthood Universal? ◦ Arnett points out that emerging adulthood does not exist in all cultures ▪ Only in US, Canada,Australia, NZ, Japan and the more affluent nations of Western Europe ◦ The existence of emerging adulthood is not entirely an economic phenomenon ▪ It has a lot to do with values and priorities • Psychological Well-Being in EmergingAdulthood ◦ Researchers compared four groups of individuals: ▪ (1) those who reported positive well-being across the entire interval ▪ (2) those who reported negative well-being across the entire interval ▪ (3) those whose well-being started low but increased ▪ (4) those whose well-being started high but decreased • Results: ◦ Over 80% of the sample showed great stability in their well-being over the period ▪ Psychological functioning in childhood and adolescence is highly predictive of success in later adult life ◦ More than a sixth of the sample, this period was one of substantial change in mental health – about 7% of the sample were well-functioning adolescents who became “exemplary” adults ◦ Experiences in the domains of work, romance, and citizenship – but not school or finances – were especially linked to changes in well-being Recap • Inventionists argue that adolescence is more a social invention than a biological or cognitive phenomenon • Our conception of adolescence – whether it exists as a separate period and what its nature is – is determined largely by forces in the broader social environment ◦ Changes in the broader environment therefore, can change the very nature of adolescence • Adolescthce as we know it today is largely a product of the Industrial Revolution of the late 19 century • Some writers have suggested that a new stage of life, called emerging adulthood, has arisen in recent years ◦ Evidence for the existence of emerging adulthood as a widespread phenomenon is mixed • Although there is not a great deal of research on psychological development during the years immediately following adolescence, several studies indicate that for most people, especially those who successfully move into adult work and romantic roles, this is a time of increased well-being and positive mental health Changes in Status During Adolescence Drawing a Legal Boundary • Initiation ceremony is the formal induction of a young person into adulthood • Status offence is a violation of the law that pertains to minors but not adults ◦ e.g.) skipping school (truancy) ◦ leaving home (running away) • Certain crimes, when committed by a minor, are adjudicated in a separate juvenile justice system, a separate system of courts and related institutions developed to handle juvenile crime and delinquency • Adolescents as Criminal Defendants ◦ There is a great disagreement about how we should view and treat young people who commit serious violent offences ▪ One issue that arises in cases in which a juvenile might be tried as an adult is whether the adolescent is competent to stand trial ▪ One recent study of this issue of this examined the competence to stand trial of a large sample of individuals between ages 11 and 24 • The study suggested that courts should not assume that younger adolescents, even those who are not mentally ill or retarded, are necessarily competent to be tried as adults and that juveniles' competence to stand trial should be evaluated before their cases can be heard in an adult court Inconsistencies in Adolescents' Legal Status • Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier: the Court ruled that a public high school can censor articles written by students for their school newspaper, on the grounds that adolescents are so “immature” that they need the protection of “wiser” adults • Board of Education v. Mergens: Students who wanted to form a Bible study group had the right to meet on campus because high scholl students are “mature” enough to understand that a school can permit the expression of ideas that it does not necessarily endorse • Hodgson v. Minnesota: the Court ruled that because of their maturity, adolescents do not need to obtain parental consent to get an abortion • Roper v. Simmons: the Court tuled that adolescents should not be subject to the death penalty, because their immaturity makes them less responsible for their criminal behaviour (and therefore less “punishable”) Recap • Changes in the individual's social definition at adolescence typically involve changes in status ◦ When they become adults, individuals are given greater privileges but are expected to take increased responsibility for self-management and participation in adult society • An especially controversial issue concerns whether juveniles who commit serious crimes should be treated as children or tried as adults • In contemporaryAmerica, there is a great inconsistency in where we draw age boundaries between childhood and adulthood ◦ Different ages are used for different purposes The Process of Social Redefinition • Social redefinition is a serious of events that often occur over a relatively long time • In contemporaryAmerica, the process of redefinition begins at age 15 or 16, when the young person is permitted to drive, to work, and to leave school • In many cultures, social redefinition of young people occurs in groups ◦ That is, the young people of a community are grouped with peers of approximately the same age (a cohort) and move through series of status transitions together Common Practices in the Process of Social Redefinition • Real or Symbolic Separation From Parents ◦ In traditional societies, this may take the form of a practice known as extrusion ▪ The practice of separating children from their parents and requiring them to sleep in other households, part of the process of social redefinition at adolescence in many societies ▪ Youngsters may spend the day with their parents but spend the night with friends of the family or relatives ▪ The “placing out” of adolescents from their parents' home often coincided with puberty ▪ In contemporary society, separation takes part in different forms • Summer camps, boarding school, college • An Emphasis on Differences Between the Sexes ◦ In non-Western cultures, girls' behaviour is more subject to the control of adults, whereas boys are given more freedom and autonomy ◦ Girls are expected to remain virgins until marriage, whereas boys' premarital sexual activity is tolerated ◦ Girls are expected to spend time preparing for domestic roles, whereas boys are expected to acquire vocational skills for employment ◦ Many contemporary ceremonies designed to recognized the young person's passage into adulthood are either limited to one sex or the other ▪ Debutant ball or quinceanera, marking the “coming out” of a girl ▪ Bar Mitzvah or Bas Mitzvah, In Judaism, the religious ceremony marking the young person's transition to adulthood • The Passing on of Information From the Older Generation ◦ This information may concern: ▪ (1) Matters thought to be important to adults but of limited utility for children • e.g.) Information about the performance of certain adult work tasks ▪ (2) Matters thought to be necessary for adults but unfit for children • e.g.) Information regarding sex ▪ (3) Matters concerning the history or rituals of the family or community • e.g.) How to perform certain ceremonies ◦ Scarification is the intentional creation of scars on some parts of the body, often done as part of an initiation ceremony ◦ In contemporary, even though we do not practice anything “alien” as scarification, we get our ears pierced, shave, get tattoos, and wear makeup as body rituals Recap • Certain themes are common to the process of social redefinition across many societies ◦ These include the real or symbolic separation of young people from their parents, the accentuation of differences between males and females, and the passing on of cultural, historical, or practical information deemed to be important for adulthood • Although these theme are more explicit in the formal initiation ceremonies practiced in traditional societies, they are evident in the process though which individuals redefined in contemporary industrialized society as well Variations in Social Transitions Variations in Clarity • There are other factors other than the presence of formal rites of passage that determine how clear the transition into adult stat is to young persons and to society ◦ One factor concerns the extent to which various aspects of the status change occur at about the same time for individuals and during the same general period for adolescents growing up together ▪ When transitions into adult work, family, and citizenship roles occur close in time, and when most members of a cohort experience these transitions at the same time, the passage into adulthood takes on greater clarity • The Clarity of Social Redefinition in Contemporary Society ◦ School graduation ceremonies perhaps come the closest to universal rites of passage in contemporary society, but graduation does not bring with it many universal changes in social status, responsibilities or privileges ▪ As a result, social redefinition in contemporary society does not give adolescents any clear indication of when their responsibilities and privileges as an adult begin • Adolescents' Views of Themselves ◦ JefferyArnett's findings of conceptions of adulthood in contemporaryAmerica contrasted with the ways in which adult status has been viewed in other cultures in other points in time ▪ Adolescents place less emphasis on the attainment of specific roles (such as worker, spouse, parent) and more emphasis on the development of various characteristic traits indicative of self-reliance (such as responsible, independent, self-controlled) • The best predictor of subjective age (the age they felt) regardless of actual age was their level of psychosocial maturity ▪ Overtime, there has been a striking decline in the importance of family roles (marriage, parenthood) ▪ The defining criteria of adulthood have been more or less the same for males and females in contemporary industrialized society • The Clarity of Social Redefinition in Traditional Cultures ◦ Unlike the case in contemporary society, social redefinition during adolescence is clearly recognized in most traditional cultures ◦ Typically, the passage from childhood into adolescence is marked by a formal initiation ceremony, which publicly proclaims the young person's assumption of a
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