A Tangle of Discourses: Girls Negotiating Adolescence
By Rebecca C. Raby
“Parents brace themselves for the challenges that are assumed to come when their
children enter their teenage years, and many parents turn to advice columns,
books, talk shows and therapists for guidance.
In an interesting shift from this standard discourse of adolescence, Laurence
Steinberg’s research suggests that the teen years are ‘stormier’ for parents than
for teenagers (p. 431).
The statements above make a lot of sense to me. I think that the metaphor “storm” explains a dimension of teenage hood. Yes teenage years are story years for youth. However, it seems to me that it is more stormy for parents than it is for adolescents. Many parents assume that their adolescent children will do something wrong. This assumption is in the culture of adults. Parents are mostly over concerned about their teenage children. This concern directs them to discipline and control the behaviors of their children. In turn, their over protective behaviors irritate teenagers and make them rebellious.
“Youth today are courted as a high-consumer group, and are modeled in the media as the ideal age, with teenage hood constituting the onset of ‘the best years of your life’. Social historians often connect the emergence of adolescence to processes of production and patterns of consumption (Kett, 1977; Adams, 1997). (…) Today, youth not only advise their families on how to spend money, but are identified as a group with both free time and disposable income (Palladino,1996)” (p. 437).
The discourse of adolescence as “Pleasurable Consumption” and considering the role of media in the construction of this discourse is also meaningful. Today teenagers as a group are seen as profitable consumers. It is very obvious. When we go to mall or similar shopping places we see that most of the shoppers are teenagers. It is also seen in all TV and magazines advertisements. Teenagers are shopping in all places. In addition they advise their parents what to buy. In this context, an important point is that they are heavily influenced by the fashion industry and media. Whatever is commonly advertised in media, it becomes trendy and it is bought by teenagers.
“The present paper has examined key dominant discourses that frame adolescence, the investments behind these discourses and some of the contradictions embedded within and between them. (…) Clearly this discussion is simply a beginning, as these discursive patterns intersect with, and are disrupted by, class, race, gender and sexuality.(…) Discourses are not monolithic and unchanging; quite the contrary. Their study allows us to de-naturalize taken-for-granted assumptions (p. 446).
The five discourses of adolescents identified by the author are not clear cut categories. Also they are not universal. They are affected by race, culture, social class, gender and other similar factors. They cannot be seen as unchanging. Specifically, social class and culture, like media, influence teenage behaviors.