John Coleman University of Oxford [email protected] Adolescents constructing their own adolescence. Interview 1.
“They went through this list – what are the main reasons for under-age people to have sex, and they went through this list that they had made, and it was all peer pressure, and to fit in, and stuff like that, and they didn’t once mention that people might just want to do it. They seemed to think that no-one does things because they want to, everyone does it to fit in. And most of the time they don’t, you know, that hardly ever happens”. 17 year-old boy.
“Too often adolescents are portrayed as passive recipients of circumstances ......
In reality they play an active role in shaping the context in which they operate”
(Feldman and Elliott, 1990)
“The teachers sometimes, they don’t really listen to students. Things like with the school, they just tend to do it. They put out a survey, and then they just do the opposite of what we say. Throughout the year they’ve done things like that. They ask, but then they do the opposite of what we say. I can’t really be bothered with getting involved!” 15 year-old boy.
“I think like, with your parents, like, you can’t really put your say in what you want. And they won’t let you have your say in some things, but like now at school you sort of get to have your say in more things, like in lessons, and you can say what you like, and in school council and stuff”. 14 year-old girl.
“I think you have to sort of stop going to people and asking their opinions. You just have to think: “what do I actually want to do, and what would it turn out like if that did happen?” You need to isolate yourself from them, because you can get easily influenced by what your friends are saying or what your parents are saying, and sometimes it can’t really be right for you. You might not even consider either of their views ......” 16 year-old girl.
“In the social sciences agency refers to the capacity of the individual to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast structure refers to those factors which seem to limit or influence the opportunities that individuals have. Disagreement on the extent of one’s agency often causes conflict between parties: e.g. parents and children”.
Young person’s behaviour
“Adolescents’ appeals to personal jurisdiction serve an important function in social development. Parents’ claims to social conventions, adolescents’ rejections of those claims, and their appeals to personal jurisdiction form an ongoing dialectic which leads to transformations in the boundaries of parental authority.” (Smetana, 2010)
“They think their room is their own, that they can keep it that way if they want. But they’re wrong. The room is part of the house. As long as they live here, they have to follow my rules”.
“It’s my room, and it’s how I do things. In my room I’m comfortable when it’s messy. It’s my space. I know my parents would like it to be neat and tidy like the rest of the house, which I can appreciate, but my room is my own. It’s my space so I should keep it the way I want.”
“Well, I’m all for equal rights. I’m always going on at my parents, sort of saying we’ve got equal rights to them, and they’ve got no right to tell us what to do. OK we are under 16, but .... We get a lot of say in our house, it’s really democratic, and I really hate it when my parents say “Do this”, and you’ve got to do it, and you’ve got no say. You’re like a robot doing things that other people tell you. We’ve often talked about it, and it’s definitely wrong, but then there’s got to be a limit.” 15 year-old girl.
“I think it’s a time when you go through a lot of pressure, and there’s a constant battle within yourself, and you have so many pressures from outside, pressures from school, and parents and friends, and you have to battle with all these, and from that you have to say: “whatever all these are saying, I have to think: what do I want to do?” You want to do what you think is right, even if it is wrong, you know that it’s what you chose to do, so whatever happens it’s your fault. I’d rather that, in some cases do something and if it’s wrong I know it’s me, I chose to do it.” 16 year old girl.