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1. Sociopolitical Contexts of Development
Unit 1: Developmental Transitions 2. Physiological Activity During Adolescence 3. Cognitive Development for Adolescents in a Global Era: A Social Justice Issue? 4. Adolescent Psychosocial Processes: Identity, Stress and Competence
UNIT 2: Contexts of Development: Socialization Process 5. A Contemporary History of the Church, Hip Hop, and Technology: Their Influence on African American Youth Development 6. Leisure and Technological Influences 7. Adolescents and Schooling: Differences by Race, Ethnicity, and Immigrant Status 8. Foundations of Faith 9. Multicultural Perspectives of Self and Racial/ Ethnic Identity 10. Immigration and Well-being 11. Socializing Relationships 12. Critical Health Issues During Adolescence
UNIT 3: Confronting Normative Challenges: Risk, Resilience, Privilege & Coping 13. Rebirth: From Adolescence to Adulthood 14. Social Contexts and Adolescent School Engagement 15. Spirituality: Religious & Spiritual Development in Adolescents
UNIT 4: Structuring and Facilitating Supportive Systems 16. From Research to Practice: The Treatment of Adolescent Psychopathology 17. Understanding Adolescence: A Policy Perspective 18. Program Considerations for Youth-focused Professionals
Margaret Beale Spencer University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Dena Phillips Swanson University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
Malik Chaka Edwards Charlotte Law School, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Excluding the first 2 years of life, there are few periods of the life course more eventful, labile, and responsive to context features than adolescence. The rapid and pronounced shifts in cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional growth and development are associated with significant biological maturation. These sources of change, as well as youths' navigation across and involvement in diverse settings, matter profoundly. Physical examples of contexts include neighborhoods, work apprenticeship sites, organizational localities (e.g., 4-H, Scouting), and activity settings (e.g., skate board spaces, swimming pools, basketball courts, service learning settings, bowling alleys, Police Athletic League [PAL] locales, car repair hangouts). Also salient within the optional contexts and sites are the adults who are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the diverse settings that include teaching, administrative, and support staff members (i.e., those who might not necessarily be perceived by youth as socially and emotionally important and support-providing individuals). Also important as context features, although infrequently thought about as salient in youths' navigated space, are the attitudes, training pedagogy, philosophical stances, stereotypes, and belief systems of the adult police and public transportation officers, service provider security persons, and others responsible for modeling and maintaining order as well as providing safety and security in public spaces. The fact that many adults (e.g., police officers) comprising adolescent contextual experiences are paid through tax dollars, politically positions them. In addition, their direct and relational interaction with adolescents socially positions them. The role of public transportation security persons, along with municipal police officers, remains especially significant through the adult years. Their salience is particularly obvious given the nation's burgeoning incarceration rate, which continues to be one of the highest in the world.
The previously described role (i.e., public safety personnel) represents a publicly paid, local representative and salient model of a community's legal system that is sworn to serve and protect public spaces. These spaces are frequently "criss-crossed" by youth who are generally without direct adult supervision. Thus, as representatives of public policy, officers of the law and adult models are present within, between, and across youths' navigated spaces. The quality of encounters (i.e., both perceived and experienced) has salience for and contributes to youths' sociopolitical beliefs and behavioral orientations. To illustrate, a significant number of males, in particular (expressed with varying levels of intensity), have a propensity to expect respect from others and cope by resorting to hypermasculine response styles in response to colloquially and variously expressed peer pressure to "man up" when disrespected (see Spencer, 1999, 2005; Spencer, Fegley, Harpalani, & Seaton, 2004; Swanson, Cunningham, & Spencer, 2005). Together the multiple sources of influence play significant and unavoidable roles in the progressive complexity associated with youth development during adolescence.
1.1. GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT ACROSS CONTEXT-SHARING DIVERSE GROUPS
In acknowledging the complexities of human development from a life span perspective, Baltes (1987) describes three primary influences which, along with biological and environmental determinants, take collective responsibility for explaining how individuals develop over time. The three sources of sway and significance include history-graded, age-graded, and nonnormative influences.
History-graded influences are associated with historical time and define the biocultural context of development. A cogent and contemporary example of history-graded influences reflecting sociopolitical forces on adolescent development has been immigration law changes. In fact, both American immigration law changes and the magnitude of technology innovations have expanded the contexts of development. Age-graded (i.e., normative) influences continue to be important and represent factors strongly associated with chronological age. That is, they afford a level of predictability in terms of their onset, direction, and duration (e.g., youths' apprenticeship needs and opportunities, which prepare them for adult work; critical role experimentation options [albeit without long-term consequences] as well as the exploration of career and work roles). Nonnormative influences are characterized as events, patterns, and sequences that are not applicable to most individuals or associated with a dimension of developmental time (i.e., immigration experiences, the experiences of American youth living through "9/11" and residing in the northeastern region of the United States, significant illness associated with the recent flu epidemic), whether ontogenetic or historical. These influences, in essence, do not follow a common and predictable course across development. The following sections provide a more detailed discussion of these influences as linked to adolescent development.
1.1.1. History-graded influences
History-graded influences are impacted by ideological, demographic, and other social context variables. This was evidenced by the 1965 Immigration Act, which eliminated country-specific immigration quotas and ushered in an era of increased immigration to the United States. This resulted in clear demographic shifts, with the largest number of immigrants since the Act's passage not coming from Europe, but from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America; in fact, for the latter group of nations noted, the changes include the largest number of immigrants coming from Mexico followed by East and Southeast Asia (Camarota, 2007).
This shift in demography resulted in a shift in American mythology. The American "melting pot" myth has been deconstructed for better describing what it means to be a nation of immigrants. As a nation, having clarity about the meaning of this status has significance, not just for White privilege, but for the larger "Black-White" relational paradigm as well. Blacks are no longer the largest minority, and by 2042 Whites will no longer be the majority (Bernstein & Edwards, 2008). What are the results of such a shift? Does the conception of Asians as model minorities give them "honorary whiteness?" If so, which Asians get this privilege? Blackness also needs to be unpacked, as evidenced by contemporary questions of whether U.S. President Obama's Kenyan father and Kansas-born White mother make him Black even if he is "African American."
As noted in Jacobs et al. (Chapter 10), one in five children in the United States is an immigrant or the child of immigrant parents. As a result, immigration accounts for practically all of the increase in public school enrollment over the past two decades (Camarota, 2007). While one would logically expect increases in bilingual education and greater diversity in employment, this is not always the case. California is the most diverse state in the country but passed Proposition 227 in 1998, which required that "all children in California public schools shall be taught English, and be placed in English language classrooms. The proposition requires that children who are English learners shall be educated through sheltered English immersion opportunities during a temporary transition period, which will normally not exceed one year" (see California Secretary of State, 1998). A similar law was passed in Arizona in 2000, and similar ballot initiatives are being organized around the country.
It is counterintuitive that we are witnessing the development of language immersion programs in magnet schools to attract privileged parents into low-income schools. As a result of the noted strategy, bilingualism has become privileged in ways that do not acknowledge its protective factors or communal meaning. Perhaps its embracement construes its perception and function as yet another protective factor.
Impact of expanded media and technology influences on adolescents. Frand (2000) reports that "most students entering college today are younger than the microcomputer, are more comfortable working on a keyboard than writing in a spiral notebook, and happier reading from a computer screen than from paper in hand. For them, constant connectivity—being in touch with friends and family at any time and from any place—is of utmost importance" (p. 15). As reported by Howe and Strauss (2000), youth born in or following 1982 are seen as virtually matchless in their uniqueness and, in fact, are described as totally unlike previous generations and are often referred to as Millennials. The term Millennials was adopted as a strategy to capture and understand the first postcomputer generation. They are the first native speakers of technology, and their foundation is digital versus analog. Many researchers are attempting to understand the implications of this "information age mindset" (Frand, 2000, p. 16). Millennials' core personality traits have been identified as confident, conventional, sheltered, team-oriented, achieving, and pressured (Cooney, 2007-2008, p. 506). They are "ambitious, demanding, and they question everything" but authority (Cooney).
For educational purposes, it may be critical to recognize that they are students who have an exploratory style of learning which causes them not only to retain information better but to use it in creative and innovative ways (Cooney, 2007-2008). Because Millennials developed using interactive technology such as the Internet, they are less likely to use instructions as a guide and, alternatively, make use of trial-and-error techniques until successful. According to Cooney, "they are oriented to inductive reasoning, formulating hypotheses and figuring out rules; they crave interactivity and may need to be encouraged to stop experiencing and spend time reflecting" (p. 506). This knowledge sets a psychohistorical moment, although it is still important to unpack the broad developmental implications.
1.1.2. Age-graded influences
The concept of normative development implies commonalities across processes and experiences shared by individuals within a given age range. Age-graded (i.e., normative) influences subsequently assume predictability in their onset, direction, and duration across groups. These are strongly tied to social expectations regarding timing of developmental expectations. School transitions are age-graded experiences associated with socially defined expectations but that also influence subsequent experiences. Accordingly, some school districts have implemented "social promotions" to minimize the deleterious social effects of academically retained students being "off-time" and in classes with socially or physically less developed students. For American youth, obtaining a license to drive is a developmental marker and provides an illustration of age-graded influences affected by context features.
As a traditional marker of impending adult status, obtaining a driver's license communicates different meanings to varying members of diverse ethnic groups. To illustrate, for Caucasian youth, more generally, or for some economically privileged teens, obtaining a driver's license may have meaning as an important "adult transitioning marker." In contrast, as a historical and traditional "pending adulthood transition marker," it may represent an "angst-generating developmental transition." More specifically, given the dissimilar sociopolitical realities for Black or Hispanic adolescent males (i.e., independent of wealth status), the different inferred perceptions, anxieties, and experiences of parents and other socializing adults are authentic. Their social awareness communicates, on the one hand, a heightened sense of vulnerability for some in contrast to beliefs about anticipated and expanding autonomy for others. Thus, a traditional adolescent marker heralding an impending transition to adulthood status may be enjoyed as "celebratory" for some (e.g., Caucasian, Asian youth) and a source of angst for others (e.g., being picked up by police due to underacknowledged racial profiling). Thus, for particular parents and youth, political and social realities reinforce unavoidable inferences concerning daily rituals and social realities for their youth as each young person navigates social space. This simple fact has huge parental socialization consequences (e.g., see Hughes et al., 2006) and political implications as youths' maturational processes make their capacity for inference making concerning inequities unavoidable.
1.1.3. Nonnormative influences
Undoubtedly, youths' experiences in different contexts, given each setting's varying character, are quite foundational to the outcomes and processes of human development. Male youth of color, for example, may use a bravado (i.e., hypermasculinity) orientation as a coping strategy in preparation for expected disrespect or harassment (Spencer, 1999; Stevenson, 2003). Normal maturation and associated inference making in the physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive domains contribute to the nature of individual context interactions and are especially evident during adolescence. What makes them particularly significant is that many social exchanges and events occur when youth are either alone or with peer group members. That is, progressively fewer exchanges occur while under the direct supervision of parents; thus, parental monitoring means something very different during adolescence (see Spencer, Dupree, Swanson, & Cunningham, 1996). Importantly, other socializing adults become equally or more salient. The nature of the interactions and youths' psychological preparation for them (i.e., the nature of cultural socialization, including spirituality and faith group experiences; perceptions of parental monitoring [see Spencer, Dupree, et al., 1996]) have important implications for positive youth development (see Blum, 2003; Damon, 2004; Lerner, Theokas, & Bobek, 2005) and resiliency (i.e., obtaining good outcomes in the face of normative and nonnormative challenges; see Spencer, 2006, 2008a). Accordingly, the character of outcomes produced has consequences for successful adulthood transitions.
While navigating across diverse settings, and given the several sources of rapid growth and maturation, youths' perceptions of their contexts and interactions within them have implications for how they make sense of their lives. The "making sense" process plays a role in decisions about how to address the important normative tasks associated with the adolescent period (Havighurst, 1953). The satisfactory completion of development-stage-specific expectations is critical given normative anticipation of youths' physical and psychological well-being as each pursues effectance motivation (see White, 1959, 1960). The latter source of unavoidable psychological drive is consistent with their pursuit of successful competence formation processes (see White). Of course, youths' membership in diverse groups (e.g., variable as a function of ethnicity, gender, immigration status, race, level of privilege, and combinations of same) further complicates the process. Experiences resulting from group membership, which are not consistent with "age-graded" expectations, contribute to nonnormative influences (e.g., language brokering among youth of immigrant parents, exposure to community violence, managing a chronic illness).
As suggested, group membership may be associated with an individual's gender, ethnicity, immigration status, skin color, conspicuous privilege, neighborhood location, faith group, or some combination of these.
Particularly in peer groups, youths' attendant experiences within groups and between them can be contributed to by multiple factors. For example, the variations may be due to similarities and differences evident either between groups (e.g., groups' differential treatment) or from within (e.g., as a function of perceived physical attractiveness, pubertal timing, gender). Each is important as members exchange feedback, infer assumptions about the self, and navigate through diverse contexts. Youths' awareness of others and inferences made about them (i.e., both collectively and individually) are unavoidable. Undoubtedly, and independently of whether formally acknowledged as a social concern, a signal political aspect of group membership is the unique experiences had by individual members as a function of the group's perceived status.
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Posted October 17, 2014
This text provides a comprehensive in-depth review of historical and contemporary frameworks of looking at development within adolescence with special attention to diverse populations . This text is an important seminal volume that can contribute greatly to any Adolescent Development course.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.