Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- International Handbook of Adolescence Edited by Klaus Hurrelmann

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- International Handbook of Adolescence Edited by Klaus Hurrelmann

Article excerpt

HURRELMANN, Klaus, ed., INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK OF ADOLESCENCE. Westport, CT. & London: Greenwood Press, 1994, 470 pp., $ 95.00 hardcover.

This handbook provides national overviews of the situation of youths in thirty-one states. Klaus Hurrelmann's success in eliciting the contributions of forty-seven researchers from such a diverse range of countries is an impressive accomplishment in itself. Adding to the achievement is the fact that all thirty-one contributions were written expressly for this volume, providing information in standardized formats for such domains as historical and sociodemographic background, education, work, family life, associations, delinquency, government policy and so on. As Hurrelmann notes in the book's preface, these "systematic" surveys are intended to function as references for comparative analyses.

It is the reader, however, who is left to make these comparisons. The few comparisons which occur in the chapters are mostly restricted to highly general and uninformative references to "industrialized countries" (Rapoport & Lomsky-Feder : 211), or "other societies" (ibid.: 217), at times bordering as in Choe's reference to "Westernized sexual behavior patterns" (p.250) or Echeverria's reference to " the values American adolescents espouse" (258) on the stereotypic. Hurrelmann's introductory chapter where one might have reasonably expected to see a more concerted effort at rigorous comparison is strangely disconnected both from the chapters and the more general sociological and psychological literature it is introducing.

In a book that is concerned to plumb the international and historical variety and diversity of adolescence, it is disconcerting to see proclamations, asserted without qualification, about the "typical and characteristic" adolescent search for individual identity or their self-criticism (p.3) which are entirely based on a limited selection of western literature. In a book that has made the laudable effort of including reports on "developing" and "partly industrialized" countries in Asia, Africa and America, it is disturbing to see an introduction which almost exclusively restricts itself to general summary statements on the situation in "highly developed industrialized nations". And in a book that stresses an wide-ranging interdisciplinary exchange between psychology and sociology it is startling to find an introduction devoid of references to the seminal work of Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron or Henry Giroux on education; the influential British cultural studies of Paul Willis, Dick Hebdige, or Angela McRobbie, and the landmark research of L. …

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