The Emergence of Youth Societies: A Cross-Cultural Approach
reviewed by Richard Blandy - 1967
Title: The Emergence of Youth Societies: A Cross-Cultural Approach
Author(s): David Gottlieb, Jon Reeves, Warren D. Ten Houten
Publisher: John Wiley, New York
ISBN: , Pages: , Year:
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The title of this book is a misnomer. Despite some vague statements at the beginning of the book about the relationship between the emergence of youth cultures and the emergence of industralization, this promising line of thought is not developed. On the contrary, the evidence presented shows that the emergence of youth societies is related to the desire and ability of adults to help adolescents attain their goals and that the formation of attitudes of solidarity amongst youth is a phenomenon in many cultures, both primitive and modern. Furthermore, the approach is cross-cultural in only a limited sense: the authors themselves admit that their theoretical system has not been subject to any rigid empirical cross-cultural validation. Finally, only the first 48 pages of the book are devoted to analysis of the problem in hand.
The remainder of the book (368 pages out of the entire 416) is a bibliography of materials from different countries and regions concerning the training and behaviour of adolescents. The bibliography is organised by region and is extensively annotated. Its purpose is "to give those who are concerned with the study of adolescent behaviour and those who are responsible for the training of the young some indication of the state of knowledge in this field at this time." It includes sources of a general informational nature as well as professional research publications. The compilation of such an extensive cross-cultural bibliography (there are 206 references for Japan alone) is a large undertaking and one which will prove of considerable use to future researchers. The main failure of the bibliography is its omission of the most recent materials. This reviewer, in a rapid random search, was unable to find a reference dated later than 1962. In addition, the omission of materials on the United States seemed unfortunate. By contrast to the extensive work on the bibliography, the first 48 pages of the book, which develop a model of adolescent behaviour, read disjointedly and sketchily. The ideas are interesting but the development is extraordinarily meagre.
Chapter 1 consists of three and a half pages in which the assumptions are stated and variables defined in terms of a facet paradigm. This brief excursion into set theory does indeed provide a compact statement of the variables and their interrelations, but the degree of elegance is extravagant: it is unnecessary to the limited nature of the subsequent development and the foreseen obscurity of the terminology is attested by the footnote references. When such compressed treatment follows an introductory paragraph about the general use of assumptions which is not only superfluous but grammatically obscure, one regrets that the authors had not eliminated Chapter 1 entirely.
Chapter 2 is self-contained. It is based on Ten Houten's M.A. Thesis at Michigan State University and provides the most interesting and thorough treatment in the book of adolescent attitudes and behaviour towards other people (referents). Six hypotheses are proposed and tested concerning adolescent involvement with referents who vary in desire and ability to help the adolescent achieve his goals and in social distance from the adolescent. The principal hypothesis is that involvement varies directly with the desire and ability of referents to help adolescents. The sample of adolescents studied was a group of 447 students at a large state university. The results provided statistical support for the hypothesis.
Chapter 3 is again self-contained. In it, the authors attempt to "relate the structure of [their] theoretical model to a variety of studies dealing with the socialization of youth." They demonstrate the consistency of these studies in some primitive, traditional and modern societies with the hypotheses of their model. Adult hostility, for example, tends to generate adolescent solidarity. In general, the treatment in this chapter tends to be sketchy, as the authors themselves admit.
Summing up, one cannot help but feel that professional journals are the appropriate vehicles for the publication of ideas at the stage of development of Chapters 1-3, and that their inclusion in this volume is inappropriate. A more profitable use of these 48 pages would have been the bringing of the bibliography up to date.