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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Reading Notes.odt

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Diane Glebe

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READING NOTES Chapter 5: PEER GROUPS The Origins of Adolescent Peer Groups in Contemporary Society Age Grading and Compulsory Education • Educators first developed the idea of free public education, with students grouped by age – a practice known as age grading Changes in the Size of the Youth Population • The baby boom created an “adolescent boom” for about 15 years • Social scientists track the size of the adolescent population for several reasons: ◦ Changes in the number of adolescents may warrant changes in the allocation of funds for services, educational programs, and health care ◦ Changes in the size of the adolescent population have implications for understanding the behaviour of cohorts ▪ Baby boomers, “Gen X” , the “Millennial generation” (adolescent children of the baby boomers”, “Generation Y” and “Generation Z” sometimes referred to as iGeneration because growth of the Internet was during their time TheAdolescent Peer Group:AProblem or a Necessity? • On one side are those who claim that age segregation has led to the development of a separate youth culture, in which young people maintain attitudes and values that are different from those of adults • On the other side are those who argue that industrialization and modernization have made peer groups more important, that adults alone can no longer prepare young people for the future, and that peer groups play a vital role in the socialization of adolescents for adulthood Is There a Separate Youth Culture? • One recent team of researchers used a combination of research methods to see how much had changed since Coleman's original study ◦ The researchers concluded that there were both similarities and differences between what they found and Coleman's findings ▪ The combination of physical attractiveness, athletic ability, and money was still associated with popularity, and middle class values, supported by parents and teachers alike, were still dominant • The world of adolescents usually reflects the broader context at that time The Need For Peer Groups in Modern Society • Particularistic Versus Universalistic Norms ◦ Norms for behaviour that vary from person to person are called particularistic norms ▪ In societies which norms are particularistic, grouping adolescents by age and sending them off to school is not an effective strategy for socializing them for adulthood, since their family background, not their age, determines what their rights and responsibilities are ▪ More commonly found in less industrialized societies ◦ Generally, all individuals are expected to learn the same set of norms, because the rules governing behaviour apply equally to all members of the community ▪ Universalistic norms • Commonly found in industrialized societies • e.g.) Whom you marry, what kind of work you do, where you live Recap • Social scientists have long debated whether the prominent role played by peer groups in the socialization of young people is a cause for concern or celebration • Some commentators have suggested that the rise of peer groups has contributed to the development of a separate youth culture that is hostile toward adult values ◦ Others point to the necessary and valuable educational role played by peer groups in rapidly changing societies like ours • Peer groups are especially important in societies that are governed by universalistic norms, where individuals are educated mainly outside the family The Nature ofAdolescent Peer Groups Changes in Peer Groups During Adolescent • In What Ways Do Peer Groups Change? ◦ There is a sharp increase in the amount of time spent with peers versus adults ▪ During adolescence, there is a dramatic drop in the amount of time spent with parents • For girls, it is time spend with friends • For boys, it is replaced with time spent alone ▪ The decline in time spent with family members and the dramatic increase in time spent with peers in early adolescence are more striking among White girls than among boys or Black youth ◦ During adolescence, peer groups function much more often without adult supervision than they do during childhood, partly because adolescents are more mobile and seek independence ◦ During adolescence, increasingly more contact with peers is with other-sex friends ▪ During childhood, peer groups are highly sex segregated, a phenomenon known as sex cleavage ◦ Whereas children's peer relationships are limited to small groups, adolescent marks the emergence of larger collectives of peers or crowds ▪ “the druggies,” “the brains” Cliques and Crowds • Cliques are small groups between 2 and 12 individuals, average of 5 or 6 ◦ Can be defined by common groups (“drama” group) • How Cliques Structure Social Networks ◦ Based on their interview with adolescents, researchers categorized adolescents as: ▪ Clique members (individuals who have most of their interactions with the same small group of people) ▪ Liaisons (individuals who interact with two or more adolescents, but who themselves are not part of a clique) ▪ Isolates (individuals who have few or no links to others in the network) • Three interesting findings emerged: ◦ Despite the popular image of adolescents as “cliquish,” fewer than half the adolescents in school were members of cliques ◦ Girls were more likely than boys to be members of cliques, whereas boys were more likely than girls to be isolates ◦ Adolescents' positions in their school's social network was relatively stable over time ▪ Stability in the tendency to join cliques, but not in the makeup of particular groups • HowAdolescents Sort Into Crowds ◦ Crowds are based on “the identification of adolescents who share a similar image or reputation among peers, or who have common feature such as ethnicity or neighbourhood, even if they do not consider each other friends or spend much time interacting with each other” ▪ e.g.) Jocks, Brains, Nerds, Druggies, Populars ▪ Based on reputation and stereotype Changes in Clique and Crowd Structure Over Time • Observers use participant observation to study the structure of adolescents' peer groups ◦ Aresearch technique in which the researcher “infiltrates” a group of individuals in order to study their behaviour and relationships • The Transformation of the Nerds ◦ Ethnography is a type of research in which individuals are observed in their natural settings Recap • As individuals move into adolescence, there is an increase in the amount of time they spend in the exclusive company of their peers, their peer groups function increasingly outside adult supervision, and they spend more time with other-sex peers • Social scientists distinguish between crowds and cliques ◦ Cliques are small groups of friends; crowds are larger and more vaguely defined groups that are based on reputation • Cliques, which begin as same-sex groups of individuals, gradually merge to form larger, mid-sexed groups, as adolescents develop romantic relationships and start socializing with peers of the other sex ◦ In late adolescence, these groups begin to break down, as
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