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Adolescent Psychology Essay

By injesus94 Dec 12, 2010 3492 Words
Chapter 3. Social Transitions
Social Redefinition and Psychosocial Development
* The adolescent-turned-adult faces a wider range of decisions that may have serious long-term consequences (ex. Drinking) * Age of majority: the designated age at which an individual is recognized as an adult * Changes in status at adolescence may affect development in the domain of sexuality * 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 realms of identity, autonomy, intimacy, sexuality, and achievement The Elongation of Adolescence

* The length of adolescence as a developmental pd has increased dramatically due to the earlier onset of puberty and the prolongation of formal education, which delays many of the role transitions that mark the beginning of adulthood * Many observers of adolescence in contemporary society believe that the transition into adulthood is too long, too vague, and too disorderly, and that this has had harmful effects on adolescents’ development and well-being, especially those for whom formal schooling is not a fulfilling experience Adolescence as a Social Invention

* Inventionists: theorists who argue that the pd of adolescence is mainly a social invention * Although the biological and cognitive changes characteristic of the pd are important in their own right, adolescence is defined primarily by the ways in which society recognizes the pd as distinct from childhood or adulthood * Stanley Hall ( contrast ) saw the psychological changes of adolescence as driven by puberty and as a result, by biological destiny [The “Invention” of adolescence]

* Prior to the Industrial Revolution ear, children were treated primarily as miniature adults, and people did not make precise distinctions among children of different ages The Impact of Industrialization

* With industrialization came new patterns of work, education, and family life. * Adolescents were affected by these changes; because the economy was changing so rapidly, away from the simple and predictable life known in agrarian society, the connection b/t what individuals learned in childhood and what they would need to know in adulthood became increasingly uncertain; parents especially in middle-class families, encouraged adolescents to spend time within societal institutions, such as schools, preparing for adulthood * Society began to view adolescents as less capable and more in need of guidance and training * Child protectionists argued that young people needed to be kept away from the labor force for their own good The origins of adolescence as we know it today

* It was not until the late 19th century that adolescence came to be viewed as it is today: a lengthy pd of preparation for adulthood, in which young people, in need of guidance and supervision, remain economically dependent on their elders * Two other modifications of the definition of adolescence also gave rise to new terminology and ideas; the first is the use of the term teenager (a term popularized about 50 years ago to refer to young people; it connoted a more frivolous and lighthearted image than did adolescent); second is the term youth ( 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 a luxury of the middle class?] * According to Jeffery Arnett, pd from ages 18-25 is neither adolescence nor adulthood, but a unique developmental pd in its own right, characterized by five main features: 1. The exploration of possible identities before making enduring choices, 2. Instability in work, romantic relationships, and living arrangements, 3. A focus on oneself and, in particular, on functioning as an independent person, 4. The subjective feeling of being b/t adolescence and adulthood, 5. The subjective sense that life holds many possibilities Is emerging adulthood universal?

* Emerging adulthood does not exist in all cultures
* The existence of emerging adulthood may have a lot to do with values and priorities Psychological well-being in emerging adulthood
* Several studies show that the pd is generally one of positive and improving mental health * 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 increasing well-being and positive mental health Changes in Status

* Changes in social definition at adolescence typically involve a two-sided modification in the individual’s status; on the one hand, the adolescent is given certain privileges and rights that are typically reserved for the society’s adult members; on the other hand, this increased power and freedom generally are accompanied by increased expectations for self-management, personal responsibility, and social participation | In Traditional Societies| In Contemporary Societies|

Interpersonal| Addressed with adult title by other members of community| Permitted to sit with grown-ups for special occasions| Political| Permitted to participate in community decision making| Eligible to vote| Economic| Permitted to own property| Permitted to work|

Legal| Permitted to consume certain foods| No longer dealt with in separate juvenile justice system| * Initiation ceremony: the formal induction of a young person into adulthood * Status offense: a violation of the law that pertains to minors but not adults * Juvenile justice system: a separate system of courts and related institutions developed to handle juvenile crime and delinquency * Criminal justice system: the system of courts and related institutions developed to handle adult crime * 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 adult court Inconsistencies in adolescents’ legal status

* Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier – 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 b/c high school students are mature enough to understand that a school can permit the expression of ideas that it does not necessarily endorse * Hodgson v. Minnesota – Court ruled that b/c of their maturity, adolescents do not need to obtain parental consent to get an abortion * Roper v. Simmons – adolescents should not be subject to the death penalty, because their immaturity makes them less responsible for their criminal behavior * There is great inconsistency in where we draw age boundaries b/t childhood and adulthood The Process of Social Redefinition

* The young people of a community are grouped with peers of approximately the same age – a cohort – a move through the series of status transitions together * One of the results of such age-grouped social transitions is that very strong bonds are formed among youngsters who have shared certain rituals * In many Latino communities, adolescent girls participate together in an elaborate sort of “coming-out” celebration, called the quinceanera * The Navaho initiation ceremony for females, called kinaalda, provides a nice illustration of a coming-of-age ritual and the importance of this type of ceremony for social redefinition; takes place during the adolescent girl’s first or second menstrual pd; the girl is separated from her family and community, and assigned a mentor, Ideal Woman, who massages every part of the girl’s body and oversees the girl’s purification and physical transformation; then she is dressed and painted to resemble a figure called Changing Woman [Common practices in the process of social redefinition]

Real of symbolic separation from parents
* Social redefinition usually entails the real or symbolic separation of young person from their parents * 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 (traditional) * In contemporary society, the separation of adolescents from their parents takes somewhat different forms; summer camps, to boarding schools, or college An Emphasis on differences b/t the sexes

* Second aspect of social redefinition during adolescence entails the accentuation of physical and social differences b/t males and females * Many societies separate males and females during religious ceremonies, have individuals begin wearing sex specific articles of clothing and keep males and females apart during initiation ceremonies * Some traditional societies employ a practice known as brother-sister avoidance: After puberty, a brother and sister may not have any direct contact or interaction until one or both are married * Bar (Bas) Mitzvah: In Judaism, the religious ceremony marking the young person’s transition to adulthood The passing on of information from the older generation

* Third aspect of social redefinition during adolescence typically entails the passing on of cultural, historical, and practical information from the adult generation to the newly inducted cohort of young people * This information may concern (1) matters thought to be important to adults but of limited utility to children, (2) matters thought to be necessary for adults but unfit for children, or (3) matters concerning the history or rituals of the family or community * In contemporary society, adolescence is a time of instruction in preparation for adulthood * Practices like extrusion, brother-sister avoidance, and scarification-the intentional creation of scars on some parts of the body, often done as part of an initiation ceremony-may seem alien to us in contemporary society * Once adolescents have reached puberty, brothers and sisters are much more likely to seek privacy from each other when dressing or bathing * We do have our share of body rituals which often are not seen until adolescence and which might seem equally alien to someone unfamiliar with our society: the punching of holes in earlobes or other parts of the body, the scraping of hair from faces or legs, the permanent decoration of skin, and make ups Variations in Social Transitions

* Two very important dimensions along which societies differ in the process of social redefinition are in the explicitness, or clarity, of the transition and in the smoothness, or continuity, of the passage [Variations in clarity]

* There are factors other than the presence of formal rites of passage that determine how clear the transition into adult status is to young persons and to society; one concerns the extent to which various aspects of the status change occur at about the same time for individuals and during the same general pd for adolescents growing up together (transitions to adult work, family, citizenship roles, graduating from high school, enter the labor force, marriage) The clarity of social redefinition in contemporary society

* Social redefinition in contemporary society does not give adolescents any clear indication of when their responsibilities and privileges as an adult begin * Marginal man: Lewin’s term that refers to the transitional nature of adolescence-poised on the margin of adulthood Adolescents’ views of themselves

* First, in modern industrialized society, adolescents place relatively less of an emphasis than is the case in traditional societies on the attainment of specific roles as defining characteristics of adulthood and relatively more emphasis on the development of various character traits indicative of self-reliance * Second, over time, there has been as striking decline in the importance of family roles-marriage and parenthood-as defining features of transition from adolescence to adulthood * Finally, the defining criteria of adulthood have become more or less the same for males and females in contemporary industrialized society, unlike the case in traditional societies or during previous eras * How old an adolescent feels affects his or her behavior, with adolescents who feel older spending more time with opposite-sex peers, feeling more autonomous, spending more time with antisocial peers, and engaging in more problem behavior The clarity of social redefinition in traditional cultures

* In traditional cultures, the passage from childhood into adolescence is marked by a formal initiation ceremony, which publicly proclaims the young person’s assumption of a new position in the community The circumcision controversy

* Circumcision: a procedure in which some part of the genitals is cut and permanently altered * Female circumcision-some have called it “genital mutilation”-has no associated health benefits and carries many risks, including infection and chronic pain during urination, menstruation, and sexual intercourse/ for men, circumcision is associated with decreased risk of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV The clarity of social redefinition in previous eras

* Baby boom generation has provided the basis for so many of the images of modern family life that are deeply embedded in our cultural psyche * Baby boom: the pd following WWII, during which the number of infants born was extremely large * In 1960, three key elements of the transition to adulthood-finishing school, moving out of the parents’ home, and getting married-occurred relatively early, and all took place within a fairly constricted time frame * The progression from adolescence to adulthood today not only is long but occurs in fits and starts [Variations in continuity]

* Benedict pointed out that a second way in which the process of social redefinition varies across cultural and historical contexts is along the dimension of continuity-the extent to which the adolescent’s transition into adulthood is gradual or abrupt * Continuous transitions: passages into adulthood in which adult roles and statuses are entered into gradually * Discontinuous transitions: passages into adulthood in which adult roles and statuses are entered into abruptly The continuity of the adolescent passage in contemporary society * In contemporary society, we tend to exclude young ppl from the world of adults; we give them little direct training for adult life and then thrust them rather abruptly into total adult independence * Transitions into adulthood in contemporary society are therefore more discontinuous than in other cultural or historical contexts * In other industrialized countries high school students have many options other than going to college, including, most importantly, taking a formal youth apprenticeship; this provides structured, work-based learning that will likely lead to a high-quality job (Germany) * Passage into adult citizenship and decision-making roles is also highly discontinuous in contemporary Western society; adolescents are permitted few opportunities for independence and autonomy in school, and are segregated from most of society’s political institutions until they complete their formal education The continuity of the adolescent passage in traditional cultures * Modernization and globalization have made the transition from adolescence to adulthood longer and increasingly more discontinuous * Increasingly, school, rather than hands-on experience in the workplace, is how individuals all over the world are expected to prepare for adult work The continuity of the adolescent passage in previous eras

* During earlier pd in American history, the transition into adult roles and responsibilities began at a younger age and proceeded along a more continuous path than generally is the case today * Although the transition into work roles may have occurred at a younger age in the 19th century than in the 20th, this transition was made in the context of semi-independence rather than complete emancipation * This semi-independent pd-which for many young ppl spanned the decade from about ages 12 to 22, and often beyond- may have increased the degree of continuity of the passage into adulthood by providing a time during which young ppl could assume certain adult responsibilities gradually * Socialization for family and citizenship roles may have been more continuous in previous eras

Current trends in home leaving
* The trend of a higher proportion of young adults living with their parents is attributed to the increased costs of housing and transportation * Rural adolescents, especially those with high aspirations, often face a difficult choice b/t leaving their community in search of better opportunities and staying near home, where social supports are stronger * Societies vary in the extent to which the passage into adulthood is continuous or discontinuous. In a continuous passage, the adolescent assumes the roles and status of adulthood bit by bit, with a good deal of preparation and training along the way. In a discontinuous passage, the adolescent is thrust into adulthood abruptly, with little prior preparation The Transition into Adulthood in Contemporary Society

* There are three very different transitions: ones for “haves”, one of the “have-nots”, and one for those who are somewhere in between * The most vulnerable young ppl in society face in developing a coherent sense of identity, establishing a healthy sense of autonomy, and making informed decisions about commitments to family and work * Lack of clarity and continuity in the transition into adulthood may contribute to some of the problems faced by adolescents in contemporary society and may also contribute to some of the problems faced by contemporary society in dealing with young ppl * Relatively high rates of divorce, family violence, youth unemployment, juvenile delinquency, and teenage alcoholism stem in part from the confusing and contradictory nature of the passage into adulthood in modern society * Two specific societal trends that are reshaping the nature of the transition from adolescence to adulthood; fist, the length of the transitional period is increasing; second, as success in the labor force comes to be more and more dependent on formal education, the division b/t the haves and have-nots will grow [Special transitional problems of poor and minority youth]

* When adolescents from immigrant families become more Americanized, this leads to family conflict and increased distance between adolescent and parents, which in turn leads to problem behavior [The effects of poverty on the transition into adulthood]

* Poverty is associated with failure in school, unemployment, and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, all of which contribute to transitional difficulties * Because minority youngsters are more likely than other teenagers to grow up in poverty, they are also more likely to encounter transitional problems during middle and late adolescence * Poverty impedes the transition to adulthood among all teenagers, regardless of race, of course; but because minority youth are more likely to grow up poor, they are also more likely to have transition problems [What can be done to ease the transition?]

* On average, adolescents who have been mentored are less likely to have problems in school and at home, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and less likely to get into trouble with the law * Mentoring tends to be more successful when the mentor maintains a steady presence in the youth’s life over an extended pd, has frequent contact with the youngster, and involves the adolescent in a wide range of recreational, social, and practical activities * Mentoring programs have a small, but significant positive effect on the development of at-risk adolescents, but mentoring alone is not sufficient to help poor adolescents’ educational, employment, interpersonal, and health needs The Influence of Neighborhood Conditions on Adolescent Development * Growing up in a poor neighborhood has negative effects on adolescent behavior and mental health, and that these effects are above and beyond those attributable to rowing up in a poor family or attending a poor school * Adolescents growing up in impoverished urban communities are more likely than their peers from equally poor households but better neighborhoods to bear children as teenagers, to become involved in criminal activity, and to achieve less in, or even drop out of, high school-factors that seriously interfere with the successful transition into adulthood [Processes of neighborhood influence]

Collective Efficacy
* Neighborhood conditions shape the norms that guide individuals’ values and behaviors * Poverty in neighborhoods breeds social isolation and social disorganization, undermining a neighborhood’s sense of collective efficacy-the extent to which neighbors trust each other, share common values, and count on each other to monitor the activities of youth in the community The impact of stress

* The stresses associated with poverty undermine the quality of people’s relationships with each other * Both the financial strain and the neighborhood stress associated with poverty undermines the quality of parenting in a family, which in turn leads to adolescent maladjustment * Adolescents who grow up in poor neighborhoods are far more likely than other youth to be exposed to chronic community violence, and repeated exposure to violence and other types of stress increases the risk of behavioral, emotional, and even physical health problems * Adolescents who themselves have been exposed to violence are more likely to engage in violent behavior, to think about killing themselves, and to report symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, hopelessness, and substance abuse Limited access to resources

* Adolescents who grow up in poor neighborhoods have access to fewer resources than do those who grow up in more advantaged communities (quality of school, health care, transportation, employment opportunities, and recreational services) * Adolescents in poor communities have fewer chances to engage in activities that facilitate positive development and fewer changes to receive services when they are having difficulties * Most of the effects of neighborhoods on adolescent development are indirect, transmitted through the impact of the neighborhood on the more immediate settings in which adolescents spend time * The more positive features an adolescent’s context contains, the more likely he or she is to succeed.

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