Pathways through Adolescence: Individual Development in Relation to Social Contexts

By Lisa J. Crockett; Ann C. Crouter | Go to book overview

textualists, let us agree that both the content of the socialization encountered and the opportunities to forge one's own trajectory are context bound.

These three notions suggest a number of basic implications for the design of policies and practices affecting young adolescents. First, the adolescent's pathway into adulthood is not fixed prior to adolescence, but subject to change depending on the nature of the adolescent's social interactions. This recognition indicates the need for policies that assist the individual adolescent, as well as help the social agents and institutions that touch young people's lives -- perhaps most importantly, the family and the school. Second, adolescents actively shape their own developmental trajectories. This notion suggests that any policies designed to facilitate adolescent competence or well-being should take advantage of the young person's need for agency and self-direction; policies aimed at helping young people should empower them to make healthy choices and wise decisions, rather than make such choices and decisions for them. Finally, developmental trajectories are context bound. This implies that any interventions designed for young people should be sensitive to the diversity of the youth population and the circumstances under which young people come of age. Rather than insist that all policies for young people be forged in the universalistic tradition, a contextually sensitive approach begins from the premise that particular policies and practices are likely to have different effects (and different degrees of success) in different environments.

In conclusion, we need to recognize that developmental trajectories or pathways in adolescence are: (a) socially influenced by others in the adolescent's proximal environment, (b) actively pursued by the individual adolescent, and (c) contextually limited by the broader ecology. From a research perspective, one might reasonably ask what the potent processes of social influences are during adolescence and how these influences change over time, how the developing adolescent views and constructs experiences in the social world, and how the broader context moderates these processes of social influence and social construction. These are the questions for future research that emerge from the chapters in this collection. Their investigation will require a new integration of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual perspectives on the period.


REFERENCES

Bronfenbrenner U. ( 1979). Tbe ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hetherington E., & Baltes P. ( 1988). "Child psychology and life-span development". In E. Hetherington , R. Lemer, & M. Perlmutter (Eds.), Child development in life-span perspective (pp. 1-20). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kagan J. ( 1980). Perspectives on continuity. In O. Brim & J. Kagan (Eds.), Constancy and change in human development (pp. 1-42). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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