Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Constructing a teenager

HW:  For tomorrow, please read Gladwell's Outliers excerpt in your packet.

For today, please answer the following questions as class begins:

1.  From yesterday’s lesson, what is the social construction of reality?

2.  Coontz’s essay can be used to demonstrate that the Teenager is a social construction.  What do you think Coontz’s claim/thesis is?  Find a passage from the text that summarizes her claim.

3. What evidence does Coontz provide for her claim?

4.  Can you think of examples from your own life that support Coontz’s thesis?  If you can’t think of examples that apply directly to you, perhaps you can think of examples that apply to siblings, relatives, or friends?

We read an excerpt from sociologist Stephanie Coontz called "Parent-Teen Conflicts."  Hopefully the article helped you see that the idea of a "teenager" is a social construction.  The idea of a teenager has only been around since the 1940s.  Before that, individuals went more from childhood to adulthood very quickly.  Now, the process of childhood has a long drawn out middle period.  This encompasses the "teenage years" but it also includes what sociologists call "young adulthood."  Sociologists estimate the average age of independence in the United States  to be 27.  That is when (on average) individuals can be self-sustaining financially and emotionally and socially enough to have a family and residence of their own.  So this leaves a long middle period between the age of puberty (10) and independence (27).  And throughout that time, there are many mixed messages being given to young adults.  This results in "rolelessness," or a feeling of not knowing what is expected of you during those years.  One example was the lack of meaningful work.  Teens generally have jobs that society deems as unworthy or meaningless.  This can leave teens feeling like they don't matter.  Can you see how Coontz makes that point?  Do you see how that can be true?  Can you see how being a "teenager" is a social construction?

What should be the marker for independence?

For more on the difficulties of determining adulthood, see this Contexts article.

What are some of the ways teens feel when dealing with adults and expectations whether it's parents, school, work, laws or rules?  How are these feelings a social construct?

How has our society constructed the idea of the teenager?

            What is rolelessness?

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