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Burton highlights key arguments that are principal in heralding ethnography as the best tool of understanding teenagers’ behavior in high-risk neighborhoods. This thrives on the valid belief that teenagers growing in high-risk areas may attach a different meaning to adolescence than teenagers from safer areas. Adolescence, thus, occurs differently to teenagers as depending on one’s context. She highlighted the concept of accelerated life force. This suggests that teenagers in high-risk areas are highly likely to perceive their lifespan as relatively short (Burton, 1997). Such a perception may give way towards liberal handling of mortality and incarceration. In turn, a teenager is highly likely to engage in high-risk activities believing that one has no future. It emerges that these teenagers view teenage hood as a non-existent stage as they grow up to fend for themselves.
This cultural perspective is consistent with the concept of diffused age hierarchies. In high-risk areas, there is a tendency towards condensed age structures. This means that it is not easy to distinguish individuals as based on their age. In turn, teenagers may behave as adults while adults may possess similar behavior as teenagers. It is arguable that such behavior emanate from the economic situations of such livelihoods. In families broken down by poverty, a teenager begins fending for one’s family early in life. In cases of absentee fathers, teenagers take a huge economic responsibility over one’s family as such family strives to pull resources from every possible source. Such responsibilities may make teenagers live an unconventional teenage life. This causes a rift with school institutions. This is because in schools, the system treats teenagers according to their age, while they are treated as adults at home. Such a teenager has to develop a dual
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