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Peer Groups in Adolescence - Research Paper Example

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Peer Groups in Adolescence Peer groups are social groupings that although not exclusive to adolescence, more prominently characterize this stage in human development – Several studies assert (Berndt, 1979; Britain, 1963; Young & Ferguson, 1979) the high receptiveness of adolescence to peer groups (as cited in O’Brien & Bierman, 1988, p…
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Peer Groups in Adolescence
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Peer Groups in Adolescence

Download file to see previous pages... 571). The peer groups in adolescence impact not only at home, in the school, but in the society as a whole. To better understand this, the following issues are examined: 1) Definition of peer groups, 2) association of peer groups with adolescence, and 3) impact of peer groups in adolescents’ life. Peer Groups Defined Peer groups can be immediately qualified as informal groups, because they are not legally registered and they are not bound by a constitution and by-laws. Instead, their formations and operations are all achieved informally. As defined, peer groups are social groups of people of the same age and status (Brym & Lie, 2010, p. 71). Observably though, there are some peer groups which composition vary in age and status, especially in this age of globalization wherein diversity is the social call. Another defining characteristic of peer groups is their sizes, structure and stability, from which Cotterell (1996) has categorized them as cliques, crowds, and gangs (p. 23). Clique, as the basic peer group in adolescence (Cotterell,1996, p. 24), is an exclusive smaller group within a larger group, formed based on its members’ similar interests, views, purposes and patterns of behavior, exchanging among themselves gifts of friendship, affection or information (Kolaczek, 2008, p. 241). Thus cliques provide the earliest experience and involvement in developing concepts of social norms in peer groups (Cotterell, 1996, p. 24). Although smallest in size, clique is the most intimate perhaps because its small composition allows closer, more personal, and easier interaction among its members. Thus Brown (1989) defined cliques in adolescence as friendship-based group or “interaction-based clusters of adolescents who spend more time with each other than with other adolescents and who tend to share similar attitudes and behavior” (as cited in Ennett & Bauman, 1993, p. 227). As such, interactions in cliques are more intensive and more emotional (Rubin, Coplan, Chen, Bowker, & McDonald, 2011, p. 324). Some examples of cliques could be a group of students belonging to top ten class achievers that excludes non-achievers or members of musical bands that exclude those are not. Crowds, as Rubin and colleagues (2011) have defined, are ‘reputation-based collectives’ of individuals who are similarly type-casted in ways they all share. Unlike cliques, they are organized more spontaneously and they operate more loosely that members are not that familiar with each other and some of them may not have even interacted with one another. Nevertheless, crowds oftentimes provide adolescence the social status and social identity it badly seeks. (p. 324) Wentzel (2005) has described typical adolescent crowds as, ‘populars’ – academic achievers or delinquents; ‘jocks’ – atheletes or alcoholics, the alienated group – poor academic achievers, delinquents especially the ‘druggies’; and ‘normals’ – average students with no delinquent records. (p. 283) Gangs, also known as street groups, are distinct to adolescence, which Klein (1971) has referred to as ‘the gang age’ (as cited in Cotterell, 1996, p. 31). Gangs are expressive groups that oftentimes attract media attention more negatively, as media more commonly portray youth gangs based on law enforcement data of youth violence (Esbensen & Tusinski, 2007, p. 21). Cotterell (1996) has suggested two criteria by which gangs can be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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