Resistance and Subversion
as Developmental Process
Judith G. Smetana
University of Rochester
Adolescence is problematic in contemporary American society. The prevailing view is that adolescence is a normative period of storm and stress entailing a generation gap and rebellion against adult standards; adolescents are also said to be experiencing a drastic decline in moral values. These views are evident in a variety of different places. For instance, childrearing advice books provide an intriguing window on popular culture perceptions of teenagers. A quick perusal of parenting advice books suggests that adolescence is a battleground. Titles such as Surviving Your Adolescents: How to Manage and Let Go of Your 13-18 Year Olds(Phelan, 1998), Teenagers: ABewildered Parents' Guide(Caldwell, 1996), and “I'm Not Mad! I Just Hate You!”: A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict(Cohen-Sandier & Silver, 1999) portray parenting an adolescent as a challenging task and being an adolescent as equally difficult.
These negative perceptions of adolescents are echoed in the opinions of the general public. A recent nationally representative telephone survey of more than 2,000 adults, conducted by the Public Agenda (Duffet, Johnson, & Farkas, 1999), examined adults' views of teenagers today. The majority of adults surveyed (53%) had negative views of children, but they had substan
This chapter is based on an invited talk given at the Annual Meetings of the Association for Moral Education, Chicago, October 2002.