Social Influences on Youth (With Reference List)
This workshop will examine the socialization of young people
in our society.� Such an analysis must be
holistic (interdisciplinary) if it would capture some of
rapid changes of the youth culture,
subtlety of their subcultures,
complex factors that shape these cultures,
diversity of contexts in which young people grow up,
difficulty of maturation in a changing and often dysfunctional adult
unique features of each individual.
Our parenting, teaching, and leading of young people must be
relational to be effective.� Youthful existence deals especially with
identity and relationships.� Young people
want to be treated with respect, and they need to participate actively in (the
leadership of) any programs that will promote their growth.� Young people today not only present us with
problems, they are also a powerful and under-utilized resource.
Socialization in Urban vs. Traditional Cultures
Erikson and the developmentalists help us understand the stages of growth.
must consider the gender and cultural contexts of growth.
societies dissolve traditional supports and assume upward mobility and
are no longer surrounded by an extended family with specific roles toward
the child.� Most kids today are
raised (nurtured?) to some
extent or largely by TV, nannies and day care.
is important to see five or six social systems at work in the
socialization of today�s youth:
(with sports and extra-curricular activities)
sometimes church, synagogue or temple is significant.
Just as we have contrasted traditional and urban, we should
note differences experienced by those growing in poor, urban neighborhoods or
housing projects.� There, those Elijah
Anderson (Streetwise) calls �decent
folks� constitute the majority, while an oppositional society on the streets,
�street folk� tend to dominate.� Status
on the streets is seen as �juice.�
Books Describing Young People Today
David Elkind (1998)� All Grown Up & No Place To Go: Teenagers
in Crisis (Revised Edition) Reading,
MA: Addison-Wesley, 290p. This
book presents the socio-psychological dilemma of adolescents today in a very
readable and touching way.� It points to
new kinds of stress adolescents suffer today.�
Make sure you understand how today�s kids learn by imitation rather than
integration and become �patchwork selves.��
Notice how this book treats the primary social systems affecting
childhood and adolescent growth referred to above (it is weakest on
media).� This may be the best place to
start serious reading about adolescents today.
Francis A.J Ianni, (1989) The Search for Structure: A Report on American Youth Today, NY: The
Free Press, 336 p.� Probably the most
important study on youth in the 1980s.�
Interviewing thousands of urban, suburban, and rural youth (in a
relational and spiral pattern of interviews), Ianni and his team came to the
conclusion that young people are at risk when the major systems in their life
present them with incongruent value messages. Suggests relationships with adult
mentors and community charters.
Thomas French (1993)� South of Heaven:� Welcome to High School at the End of the
Twentieth Century,� Doubleday, 365
p.� A remarkable report on social
dynamics and personal lives in a typical American high school.� Describes youth at risk both among the
wealthy and academically successful as well as in the alternative section of
the high school.�
Patricia Hersch (1998)�
A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the
Heart of American Adolescence, 391 p.�
This journalist took time to get to know eight �ordinary� high school students
in Reston, Virginia.�
Like South of Heaven and other such books, it shows you how much
teenagers will open up to some one who takes a real interest in them�and what
we can learn from their stories.� The
author read alarming reports about teenagers, but thought her nice town�s kids
to be normal and healthy.� She found them
to be a �tribe apart� with many differences forms of stress.
Linda Nielsen (1996)� Adolescence: A Contemporary View, (Third
Edition) Harcourt Brace, 643 p.� This
basic text for our youth provides you with research of most issues dealt with
in YM 293 and does more with family and various ethnic groups than do most
standard texts. Important for a basic library and reference.
Tracey Skelton & Gill Valentine (1998) Cool Places: Geographies of Youth Cultures,� London & New York: Routledge, 383
p.� This is an important global study of
youthful subcultures with an emphasis on their need for space or turf.� It takes you to Britain,
Germany, the Sudan and the US.�
It shows how the youth culture achieves meaning through symbols and
fashions through, for instance, the cultural use of body (piercing, tatooing,
etc.) in terms of personal advertising and use of body space.� You will gain important insights about rave
culture, video games, moshing and much more.
Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler (1998) Peer Power: Preadolescent Culture and
Identity, New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers Univ. Press, 255 p.� This study breaks new ground showing the
emergence of cliques and subcultures, hierarchical social structures, leaders
and bullies as early as the 4th grade.� Popularity and status in this system create
pressures and rejections that should make you weep.� You will better understand young outcasts.
Charlene C. Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese (2001) Cliques: 8 Steps to Help Your Child Survive
the Social Jungle, New York:
Broadway Books, 244 p.� Building on the
work of the Adlers, these authors reinforce the reality of early cliques,
taunting and bullying.� They provide
practical suggestions for helping your child belong, control emotions, disarm
the bully.� Their goal to empower the
victim.� With other programs, they
identify the bully, the victim and the bystander.
LeAlan Jones and
Lloyd Newman with David Isay (1998) Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago,
New York: Washington
Square Press, 203 p.� There are many good books on urban realities
and several ethnographic studies of young urban boys and gangs.� This book is unique because it�s done by the
boys.� They went into their neighborhood
with tape recorders.� Their style,
insights and conclusions should not be missed.�
As one critic put it, this book will �stir the mind and break the
Dean Borgman (1997) When
Kumbaya Is Not Enough: A Practical Theology for Youth Ministry, Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson Publishers, 241 p.� This book
examines the youthful quest for identity and relationships in the process of
growth and reality of cultures.� It
attempts theological insights into the world of young people and pop culture to
make youth work more relevant and effective.�
Mary Pipher (1994)� Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of
Adolescent Girls, New York:
Ballentine Books, 304 p.� Powerful best
seller describing why the girls suddenly lose creativity and confidence and why
increasing numbers of teenagers are falling prey to depression, suicide
attempts, eating disorders and addictions.
Sara Shandler (1999) Ophelia
Speaks:� Adolescent Girls Write about
their Search for Self,� New York: HarperCollins,
285 p.� Sara Sandler read Mary Pipher�s Reviving Opehlia when she was sixteen.
While still an adolescent and student at Wesleyan Univ.,
she got other adolescent Ophelias to write of their growing-up experiences, to
which she added an editorial framework.�
Here you will hear the heartbreak and hope felt deeply behind the
smiling faces of girls you know.
Hillary Carlip (1995) Girl
Power: Young Women Speak Out! New
York: Warner Books, 353 p.� These are not only stories from teenage girls
themselves, this book is also an introduction to the subcultures of girls.� Homegirls, Riot Grrrls,
Teen Mothers, Queer and Bi Girls, Cowgirls, Native American Girls, Farm Chicks,
Rappers and Sistas, Surfers and Sk8rs, Jocks, Sorority Girls, Homemakers and
Madeleine Blais (1995) In
These Girls, Hope Is A Muscle: A true story of hoop dreams and one very special
team, New York:
Time Warner, 266pp.� This book follows
the Lady Hurricanes of Amherst,
Massachusetts. After five years
of disappointment, the become state champions. It tells what happened but the
reader must interpret is how it affected them and the subcultural aspects of
such a quest..
Joan Ryan (1995)� Little Girls In Pretty Boxes: The making and
breaking of elite gymnasts and figure skaters, New York: Time Warner, 243 pp.� Applauded by some who have seen girls hurt;
others object strongly to this scathing diatribe against the pressure parents
and coaches can put on young girls.� It
will take you into some of their lives and perhaps a culture of its own.� It will raise questions about the price of
producing young champions.
Michael Gurian (1996)�
The Wonder of Boys:� What Parents, Mentors, and Educators Can Do
To Shape Boys into Exceptional Men, New
York: Putnam, 294 p.�
Several books were written in the nineties about society�s abuse of
young women.� Apart from the works of
Jawanza Kunjufu written about black boys in the 1980s, this was one of the
first serious considerations of boys.
William Pollack (1998)�
Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from
the Myths of Boyhood, New York:
Random House, 447 pp.� With other books
recognizing the crisis for boys in our society, this clinician (McLean
Hospital/Harvard Medical School) attempts for boys what Pipher and others have
done for girls.
Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson (1999) Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, New York: Ballantine
Publishing, , 287 pp.� At a time when
some boys feel lost or alone, labeled as social rejects, and being drawn to
violent images, we are training them to bottle up their feelings.� This book pleads for emotional literacy among
James Garbarino (1999) Lost
Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, New York: The Free Press, 274 p.� No single expert on recent violent youth
crime is more worth reading than this author.�
This book takes you into a dark world and presents � a humane and
intelligent course in preventing youth violence.�� Garbarino makes sense about the pressures and
rage felt by many boys at risk.
Bernard Lefkowitz (1998) Our
Guys: The Glen Ridge
(NJ) Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb, New York: Vintage Books of Random House, 516
p.� This is a remarkable sociological
study of jock subculture and communities that support its extremes.� It is the true story about a group of boys
who gang-raped a retarded girl they had known since kindergarten and who wanted
desperately to be their friend.� It is
also about a community who supported the rapists and blamed the victim.
H. G. Bissinger (1990) Friday
Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream, HarperCollins, 363 p.� This book is a narrative study of� jock and football subculture.� It tells about the only thing going on Friday
nights in much of America.� You will become interested in Odessa, West Texas, and
get caught up in the excitement of the Permian Panthers�some of the best high
school football in the country.� And you
will ask yourself about the cost.� These
boys are gods bearing heavy burdens.� A
B-movie, �Varsity Blues,� was made from this story.
Practical research in this area should also include clipping
and filing of news articles, interviews and surveys among young people
themselves, and use of the Internet.
See CYS: Center for Youth Studies (www.centerforyouth.org)
Very user friendly.� Broad, a first step
for research, and each document has Questions and Implications for ready
training or discussion.
of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry (www.aacp.org/publications/factsfam/index.htm)� Outstanding list of childhood/youthful problems:
Abuse, Bullying, TV, Violent Behavior�
National Clearing House of Alcohol and Drug Information (www.health.org/catalog/index.htm)� Facts about alcohol and drugs and then
additional info as each relates to African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders,
College Students, etc.
Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics (www.childstats.gov)� Easy access to federal and state statistics
and reports on children and their families.
See also the Children�s Defense Fund
Or you can do your own search through Google, etc.