The Concept & Characteristics of Adolescence
Adolescence is not universal. In many preindustrial societies, young people go directly from childhood to adulthood once they have taken part in formal ceremonies known as puberty rites. Adolescence as a life stage is a relatively recent phenomenon. In the United States, this stage didn’t exist prior to the Civil War.
The Experiences of adolescence are not the same for everyone. However, five characteristics generally apply to all adolescents. These five characteristics are biological growth and development, an undefined status, increased decision making, increased pressures, and the search for the self.
Courtship and Dating
Prior to the rise of dating in the United States, interaction between young unmarried men and women was restricted to courtship. Courtship differs from dating in that courtship’s express purpose is eventual marriage. Dating, on the other hand, may eventually lead to marriage. Its main purpose is entertainment and amusement, at least in the casual stages.
Dating patterns,like dating relationships can be viewed as a continuum. On one end are traditional dating patterns. These are the ones most closely associated with dating behavior before the 1960s. On the other end of the continuum are the informal patterns that are characteristic of dating today.
Teenage Sexual Behavior
The norms governing sexual behavior vary widely from society to society. Some societies allow sexual behaviors before marriage, some do not. The rate of teenage sexual activity has increased steadily which has increased STDs, AIDS, and teenage pregnancy.
The Rate of Teenage Sexual Activity:
Survey data from the centers of disease control and prevention (CDC) indicate that 29% of unmarried American females between ages 15 and 19 were sexually active in 1970. By 1995 the rate of sexual activity increased to 50% for the same category of teenagers.
Influences on Early Sexual Activity:
Social scientist have developed a number of explanations for why adolescents engage in sexual activity. Most often, these explanations focus on social and economic factors or on subcultural factors.
Consequences of Early Sexual Activity:
For teenagers, these consequences are often negative. Some social scientists who study teenage sexuality focus on the social and health consequences of early sexual activity. Less than ⅓ of teenage girls use birth control and that is why almost 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year.
Teenage Drug Use:
A drug is any substance changes the mood, behavior, or consciousness.
The Rate of Teenage Drug Use:
Since 1997, the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research has conducted an annual survey of high-school senior. Marijuana has been the leading drug for the past 10 years, next is inhalants, and then hallucinogens.
Influences on teenage drug use:
having friends who regularly engage in drug use.
having social and academic adjustment problems, and
living in a hostile and rejecting family setting.
Teenage attitudes towards drug use:
At the peak of marijuana use in 1979, only 42% of the seniors surveyed believed that regular marijuana use was harmful to one’s health.
The social problems of teenage drug and alcohol abuse are contributing factors to another serious adolescent problem. The rate of suicide among young people in the United States has more than doubled in the past the decades.
What comes to mind when you hear the term personality? You probably think of someone's social skills or social appeal. People often use the term to describe someone’s specific characteristics or as an explanation for achievements or failures.
Nature Versus Nurture and Isolation in Childhood
For many years, social scientists have heatedly debated what determines personality and social behavior. Some argue that it is heredity. Others suggest that the social environment, contact with other people, determines personality. This debate is usually referred to in terms of nature versus nurture, or inherited genetic characteristics versus environmental and social learning. The nature viewpoint that held sway throughout the 1800s states that much of human is instinctual in origin. An instinct is an unchanging, biologically inherited behavior pattern. From the nurture point of view a person’s behavior and personality is the result of his or her social environment and learning. They believe environmental factors have the greatest influence. Heredity, birth order, parental characteristics, and the cultural environment.
Remarkably, several recorded instances exist in which children have been raised without the influence of a cultural environment. In few cases, these feral children- wild or untamed children- were found living with animals. In other instances, the children were isolated in their homes by family members so that no one would know of their existence. These children had few human characteristics other than appearance.
Locke, Cooley, and Mead
John Locke, an English philosopher from the 1600s, insisted that each newly born human being is a tabula rasa, or clean slate, on which just about anything can be written. He claimed each of us was born without a personality.
Social Psychologist Charles Horton Cooley was one of the founders of the interactionist perspective in sociology. He is most noted for developing the idea of the primary group and for his theory explaining how individuals develop a sense of self. The concept of the looking-glass self is central to that theory. The looking-glass self refers to the interactive process by which we develop an image we appear to others.
American philosopher George Herbert Mead, another founder of the interactionist perspective, developed ideas related to Cooley’s theories. According to Mead, seeing ourselves as others see us is only the beginning. eventually we take on the roles or pretend to take on the roles of others. this act of role taking forms the basic basis of the socialization process by allowing us to anticipate what others expect of us.
Agents of SocializationSociologists use the term agents of socialization to describe the specific individuals, groups, and institutions that enable socialization to take place. In the United States, the primary agents of socialization include the family, the peer group, the school, and the mass media. The family is the most important agent of socialization in almost every society. A peer group is a primary group composed of individuals of roughly equal age and similar social characteristics. For most young people, school occupies large amounts of time and attention. From ages 5 to 18 young people spend almost 30 weeks a year at school. Much of this socialization is deliberate. Socialization in the family, the peer group, and the school involves personal contact. Another influential agent of socialization, the mass media, involves no face to face contact. Mass media sends information to large audiences to convey a certain message. The major forms of mass media are t.v, newspaper, radio, magazine, and internet.
Adult Male Development
Life structure is the combination of statuses, roles, values, beliefs, and real life circumstances that characterize an individual. Early adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood are the three basic areas of adulthood
The Early adult Transition:
Early adulthood begins with the early adult transition period- ages 17 through 22.
Entering the Adult World:
The next stage in early adulthood is is called entering the adult world- ages 23-27.
The Age 30 Transition:
For many people, the age 30 transition- ages 28 through 32- is a difficult period.
The Settling Down Period:
The last stage of early adulthood is the settling down period- ages 33 through 39.
- A mentor is someone who fosters an individual’s development by believing in the person, sharing the person’s dreams, and helping the person achieve those dreams.
The Midlife Transition:
The first stage in the middle adulthood era is the midlife transition- ages 40 through 44. This period serves as a bridge between early and middle adulthood.
Adult female Development:
Women and men deal with each stage differently.
The Labor Force:
By definition, the labor force consists of of all individuals age 16 and older who are employed in paid positions or who are seeking paid employment.
The composition of the American labor force is changing. One of the biggest changes involves the number of working women and the types of jobs the hold. A profession is a high-status occupation that requires specialized skills obtained through formal education.
One way to gain an understanding of the employment patterns in society is to look at unemployment. Unemployment is the situation that occurs when a person does not have a job but is actively seeking employment. The unemployment rate is the percentage of civilian labor force that is unemployed but actively seeking employment.
Executive, administrative, and managerial
Administrative support occupations
Precision production, craft, and repair workers
Operators, fabricators, and laborers
Farming, forestry, and fishing
Transportation and material moving
The Changing Nature of Work:
As in the case of labor-force composition, there have also been changes in nature of work in the United States. In 1900 about 35% of the labor force worked in farming. About 45% were employed in manufacturing and other jobs that require physical labor, such as construction. Only about 20% of the labor force worked in jobs that focused on mental effort and interaction with people, such as the professions, management, office work, and sales.
Opinion polls and social-science research indicate that the vast majority of workers in the United States, regardless of what they do, are satisfied with their jobs.
- Gerontology is the scientific study of the processes and phenomena of aging
- Social gerontology is the study of the nonphysical aspects of the aging process.
People are now living longer. Thus, it has become impossible to view the late adulthood era as a single period of development. The topics of interest to gerontologists differ depending on the group they are studying. Among the young-old, ages 65 through 74, adjustment to retirement is one of the most important developmental issues. When the middle-old, ages 75 through 84 and the old-old, ages 85 and older, are considered, issues surrounding physical and mental decline and death take on added importance.
Adjustment to retirement:
In American society we tend to identify individuals by their jobs. When two people meet for the first time, the question of what each does for a living is likely to arise.
Physical and Mental Functioning:
As an individual ages, body cells begin to die. As a result, muscles and tissues shrink. The skin develops wrinkles. The entire body slowly loses weight. The weakened muscles lessen the individual's strength and endurance.
Alzheimer’s disease- an organic condition that results in the progressive deterioration of brain cells.
Dealing with Dependency and Death:
For the middle-old and the old-old, the issues of dependency and death take on increasing significance. dependency is the shift from being an independent adult to being dependent on others for physical and financial assistance
For many older Americans, particularly those who are financially secure, retirement is accompanied by a feeling of freedom.