Sociology | Topics in Social Psychology
S431 | 4141 | Eder

Topic: Adolescence & Youth Subculture


Two central themes of adolescence are connection and independence.
We will begin the course by focusing on how these themes are played
out in the lives of youth.  We will then go on to examine how
adolescence is shaped by experiences at both the middle school and
high school level.  Here we will consider the formation of cliques,
social stratification within schools, different high school
environments, and the influence of extracurricular activities on
forming different subcultures within the same school. We will end the
first half of the class by looking at the next transition--leaving
high school.

The focus of the second half of the course will be on youth
subcultures and social identities.  After a general introduction to
subcultures, we will examine how subcultures shape and are shaped by
gender, sexuality and media.  We will then focus on ethnic
subcultures and identities, considering issues of resistance to
mainstream culture, bicultural identities, and interracial
subcultures.  We will finish this section of the course by looking at
the role of peers and youth leader as agents of social change.

Students will be asked to write two 3-5 page autobiographical
narratives.  The first one will be on either the theme of connection
or the theme of independence as it relates to their own experiences
as an adolescent.  The second will consist of a reflection on a youth
subculture that influenced their life, exploring the role of media,
school, friends, and/or adults on that subculture.  Students will do
one major project, which can be either an empirical research paper, a
library research paper, or a service-learning project. There will be
two in-class essay exams.

A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence by
Patricia Hersch
School Talk: Gender and Adolescent Culture by Donna Eder with Cathy
Evans and Steven Parker
Reader for S431