Re: Brainpick on Youth

Hemant Desai (
Thu, 16 Mar 1995 00:13:55 -0600 (CST)

Harry Oxley wrote:

> Good Folk All,
> Hope this is the right way to spread things around the network -
> I've already failed once - but I have a need in my ignorance to pick
> brains. Does anyone happen to know of anything more or less recent on any
> ways of construing any things tending to be associated with young people -
> or 'adolescents' as I find the literature on them mostly labelled.
> To set the context, the reason I'm concerned with them is not in
> their capacity as 'problems' (to themselves or anybody else) or as members
> of what used to be called the 'youth culture', but simply as workers;
> because they are such an important labour source for some work
> organisations.
> My own question is do these organisations' "cultures" (dodgy word
> in this context too, the dimensions of whose dodginess I know well) REFLECT
> anything from youth - as 'youth' or as in its generation; like would life
> in Macdonalds be the same if all their caffs were staffed by people over
> thirty.
> Any aid like recent books, articles or ideas - or arguments in
> proof that this is a trashy issue leading nowhere so I can save my time
> before wasting any on it - greatly appreciated.
> Yours, Harry Oxley
> (tame cultural anthropologist in a 'management school')

Harry, the question about young people's constructions suggests that
there may be an area of investigation relevant both to research in PCP and
work in developmental psych and moral reasoning. For example, the finding that
children, (at an earlier age than the Piaget/Kohlberg school had imagined) are
able to distinguish moral issues from conventional ones (e.g., hurting someone
physically versus using your fingers to eat noodles).

With adolescence, these values seem to go through a period of diffusion --
probably due to the superordinate influence of the peer group at this time
(along with puberty) only to emerge as three quite distinct domains by
young adulthood: Personal, Conventional, and Moral.

A reference on the above triad is Turiel et al. (1991) [SRCD Monographs];
IMHO, it also is research that could be elaborated further with grid methods.
For example,

Turiel found that there were certain topics (particularly issues such as
abortion, pornography, & homosexuality) where people interviewed disagreed
in how these three domains were applicable or even defined. This seems to
me a worthy research project wherein social issues of the day are used
as elements in a grid with following supplied constructs (rated or bipolar):




[BTW, If necessary, the word conventional could be interchanged with
"Socially Sanctioned" without losing much meaning in the translation]

Such a grid, where the elements are some emotionally charged "nonprotoypical"
events, might show that the construals people make of moral issues can be
understood with pcp as a base and mainstream theory as the grail.

Any thoughts on this will be appreciated. Hemant Desai