Changes in Adolescence

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Adolescence is a socially-constructed phase of life used to identify people who are between the phases of childhood and adulthood. These people are typically teenagers who are more mature and responsible then children, yet are not at the maturity and responsibility level of adults. A long time ago adolescence did not exist, and children would enter right into adulthood. These children would not be enrolled in school as long and would be socially ready to join the work force, marry, and start a family at much younger ages. Back then this was a social norm, where as today it is not a normal occurrence. As jobs in the workforce became scarce the phase of adolescence developed. With the development of adolescence, teenagers were no longer considered adults and were kept in school longer, which had the effect of prolonging childhood. The adolescence phase is still very present today, but the adolescents of today have many different experiences than adolescents in the past. One such area is within work and leisure activities.

The novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which is also a movie, features the lives of four adolescent girls, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, who are growing up in the nineteenth century during the American Civil War. These four girls had very different experiences in adolescence than the adolescents of today. Today’s adolescents spend a lot of time in school with their peers and many have after school or weekend jobs. However, in Little Women the girls are either enrolled in schooling or are working, but not both. The eldest, Meg, has completed school and is now working as a governess for a wealthy family. Jo, the second eldest, has also finished school and works for their aunt, caring for her and reading her stories. The next in line is Beth, who is being home schooled, followed by Amy, the youngest, who has been taken out of the public school and is now also being home schooled. None of the girls have much money since the two oldest are working...
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