Adolescence is, probably, one of the most discussed periods of human development. The approaches to the problem of adolescence change over time and Nancy Lesko provides a provocative analysis of the issue which became an accepted approach to observing adolescents. Thus, what is the essence of her methodology known as “history of the present” and how is it helpful in viewing teenagers?
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Alternative Understanding of Adolescence: Biological and Sociohistorical Views
The study provided by Lesko (2012) suggests an alternative interpretation of adolescence structure. The discussed framework includes two primary approaches to adolescence. They are the biological and sociohistorical views. I believe these views comprise the most important ideas about adolescence. The biological one is responsible for the treatment of physiological changes such as pubertal growth or hormone boost. The sociohistorical view deals with the impact of society, its history, and the environment on the changes that occur in an adolescent.
I consider the idea of using a postmodern approach to interpreting adolescence particularly interesting. According to Lesko (2012), such an alternative theoretical interpretation of adolescence “combines poststructuralist, feminist, and postcolonial scholarship to question the knowledge and practices of knowing that created and maintain the modern, scientific adolescence” (p. 7). Postmodern approaches can be applied in other spheres as well.
For example, Taylor, Clement, and Ledet (2013) suggest using them in genograms with children and adolescents. On the whole, in the context of the postmodern perspective, adolescence is a step to a modern nation-state. I agree that such treatment can help to disclose the personal qualities of teenagers and reveal their significance for the creation of the future society.
Dealing with Adolescence
I support the author in following Stuart Hall’s program in discussing the possibility “to operate against adolescent development as a technology” or comparing differences in the development of adolescents of various races (Lesko, 2012, p. 10). The author seems to be right in the suggestion that it is useful to consider the significance of gender or race for the definition of norms, developmental stages, and maturity.
I believe that every aspect influencing the development of an adolescent should be considered to get a clear picture of the changes which occur in a young person. It is necessary to be able to help adolescents cope with changes that can be unexpected and even frightening. For this point, I support Lesko that it is important to acknowledge the differences in psychological stages between adults and adolescents which are crucial for improving living conditions for youth.
However, the study by Lesko, despite its innovative character and proven validity, has some limitations. First of all, it is focused on the events of the end of the twentieth century. Thus, it omits some cultural events which are meaningful for the development of youth. Lesko mentions the impact of television, film, and music which are important factors in the evolution of a young personality. If the research had been conducted in the twenty-first century, it would also include the Internet as one of the determinants in adolescent development. Secondly, with much attention focused on the aspects of race, gender, or citizenship, the author does not include the impact of the family which can often be decisive.
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Finally, the research is mainly concentrated on US data which limits the opportunity to generalize its results. On the whole, I consider the approach to studying the adolescent period suggested by Lesko innovative and useful in the course of discovering the peculiarities of adolescence.
Lesko, N. (2012). Act your age! A cultural construction of adolescence (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Taylor, E.R., Clement, M., & Ledet, G. (2013). Postmodern and alternative approaches in genogram use with children and adolescents. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 8, 278-292. Web.