How Parenting Styles and Crowd Contexts Interact in Actualizing Potentials for Development: Commentary
Rainer K. Silbereisen The Pennsylvania State University
Peer affiliations during adolescence tend to fall into two broad categories: peer cliques and peer crowds. Whereas the former are defined by mutual personal relationships among a small group of adolescents, most often manifested in frequent social interactions and shared activities, the latter are of a different nature. According to Brown ( 1990), crowds are "reputation-based collectives of similarly stereotyped individuals" (p. 177). More specifically, the affiliation among members of a crowd is not dependent on their actual interaction, but on common attitudes and behaviors ascribed by peers in school or from the neighborhood.
Belonging to a specific crowd helps adolescents cope with a basic problem. In the views of others and in their own perception, they gain what one could call a "provisional identity." Although crowd membership may foreclose the search for authentic identity for some time, this comes at the advantage of an increased security about one's place among peers, and in relation to expectations from institutions such as the school. In Eckert's (chap. 10, this volume) view, different crowds in school even represent different "communities of practice" -- meaning the totality of a group's own beliefs and actions vis-à-vis the institutional aims and constraints of schools.
I found this concept highly stimulating because it stresses that individuals within groups exert mutual influence on their behavior and development.