Youth Culture and Functionalism

January 15, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Sociology
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The Social Construction of Youth Objectives:Understand the ways that youth has changed over the last century Be able to explain why Youth can be seen as a social construction

Has Childhood always existed?

Historical changes in the concept of Childhood… Before 1600

At 5 a child would “belong” to a world of Work, Leisure and SexMost of the evidence for this comes from paintings and it is arguable. 1700-1800 Children were an economic asset- industrialisation in the early stages depended on the skills of children- children provided insurance for their parents in later life… Very little love or affection was shown to children. Children’s wages, although small, were an important financial benefit to a family…


The financial role of children was marginalised as industrialisation steamed forward… There were now more restrictions in place, for example: compulsory education. Middle class children were assumed to lack competencies of adults and were therefore in need of protection and guidance… Working class children were thought to be born corrupt and wicked and had to be taught and controlled… 1900-1950 Children became economically worthless but emotionally priceless. Children needed love and attention and were sheltered from the world… Children had now divided themselves in to sub-cultures that the adult did not understand. Childhood became a time where things were supposed to be magical and fun.

1950-Present day Growing awareness of children’s rights and empowerment. Children are seen as active families and make more of a democratic contribution to the family through things like housework etc. Young people form a growing economic force in society and in the family. Children target by commerce (trade) in own right.


Youth as a social construction • A ‘Youth’ - a person between 15 and 25. • ‘Youths’ are NOT all the same despite stereotypes they are a diverse group. • The appearance of ‘Youth’ is also something desired by older people who might buy goods originally aimed at young people. E.g playstation. • Many children also seek the ‘youth’ style e.g tweens of 12-14.

Task • Read page 13 in booklets and then answer questions 1-8.

Factors which affected the development of Youth Culture • • • • • • •

Post War economy and capitalism Schooling The USA and Globalisation Demographic changes The Media Consumerism and style 8BKs

Describe the norms and values • • • • • • •

Geeks Boffs Plastics Emo kids Lads ??????? Any others What would you have to do to become a member of their culture?

The Development of Sub-cultures • Reasons for the development of sub-cultures vary according to what perspective you use. • 1. Crisis of identity • 2. Rite of Passage • 3. Resistance to mainstream culture • 4. Oppression of capitalist society • 5. Style and Music

Task • Read page 16 in booklets about the Colombine killings. • Discuss the pro’s and con’s of having subcultures in schools. • What sub-culture did Harris and Klebold belong to? • Which of the explanations earlier might be able to explain their behaviour?

Food for thought • Do ALL young people belong to sub-cultures? • How would you describe the ones that don’t? • Are young people all politically aware? • Do all children suffer a crisis of identity?

Essay plan • • • • • • • • • • • •

Explain the meaning of ‘the social construction of youth’ (15 Marks) Intro explain what social construction means Explain what ‘youth’ means AO2 evaluate the term ‘youth’ is it ALL youth, it is just for 15-25 year olds? Explain that the concept of ‘youth’ has not always existed. AO2 provide examples of changes which occurred over 100 yrs AO2 these could be seen as very simplistic of how parents treated their children. Explain the factors that led to the emergance of youth culture in the UK. AO2 Marxists might say ‘youth culture’ was driven by economic factors – wanting profit from young people / consumerism/music/fashion. Explain how the emergance of ‘youth culture’ led to the creation of subcultures within youth with their own styles, music e.g Goths AO2 Not all ‘youths’ belong to sub-cultures most are ordinary Conclusion - The phase now known as ‘youth’ has evolved through social change and varies across time and place e.g some cultures still use child labour so therefore it must be a social construction.

What function do you think youth culture serves? • Think about how youth has changed since WWII and what need you think youth culture satisfies. • Functionalists believe that youth culture offers young people a transitory phase between childhood and adulthood. This allows for social intergation. • What would happen if there was no phase?

A Rite of passage • Talcott Parsons (1954) Functionalist , stated that this phase allows young people to become more separated from parents paving the way for independence later on. • Example – part-time job whilst in 6th form provides a little experience of money management. • Parsons viewed this as a phase through which all young people must pass.

A shared way of life • Functionalists believe that shared culture is important for society and integration. • Einstadt (1956) suggested youth culture binds young people together and also provides an outlet for the tensions felt by the young. • Abrahms (1959) after WWII the youth had more spending power and so became an important part of the economy providing another function in society. • A third function suggested is that young people suffer an identity crisis and that peer groups help them to overcome this.

Using the OCR textbook answer these questions 1. Explain the term ‘rite of passage’ 2. Explain two important functions that youth culture serves according to Einstadt and Abrams.

Youth Culture as resistance to mainstream culture • Marxists believe that some youth cultures have evolved as a resistance to the oppression of capitalism and the inequalities it causes in the class system. • Teddy Boys (Jefferson 1976) • Skinheads (Clarke 1976) • Hippies (Brake 1980) • Have all been linked to issues of class.

Youth Subcultures


• Neo-Marxist perspective on Youth Subcultures – based on Marxism but with added focus on economic factors e.g Hall working for the CCCS believed that the different youth cultures exist for adolescents to distinguish themselves amongst mass culture. This can be seen as a form of resistance to authority and capitalism. Jefferson (1976) “Teddy Boys”- A group who wish to recreate a sense of working class community- due to the growing affluence in post war British society- These youth cultures believed they were gaining status and protecting territory…

Neo Marxist • They criticise Functionalist perspectives which say that social class is irrelevant to the growth of youth sub-cultures. • They explain the arise of some youth subculture in terms of class related issues like:• Unemployment in w/c type jobs e.g labouring • Inner city decay • Strikes

• • • •

Read page 254-255 of OCR book and write a paragraph explaining these concepts related to Marxist view of youth sub-culture. Include a researcher’s name. Resistance Exaggeration Magical Solutions Incorporation

Essay Plan • Intro- Marxists and Neo-Marxists believe that youth culture emerge because of inequalities caused by capitalism. Other sociologists like Po Mo believe this is a thing of the past. However many youth cultures have been linked to class struggles. • P1 – Jefferson and Teddy Boys linked to low status + EEA • P2 – Clarke and Skinheads +EEA • P3 - Brake and Hippies +EEA • P4 – Thornton says club culture of the 1990s more to do with being ‘cool’ than class +EEA • P5 – We still have names for lower-class youth cultures +EEA. • Conclusion – Are youth cultures a form of resistance to capitalism or not?

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