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Psychology of Youth

Psychology of Youth

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Warren Tierney. Originally submitted for Psychology and Sociology at University of Copenhagen, with lecturer Kristian Melby Østergaard in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Warren Tierney. Originally submitted for Psychology and Sociology at University of Copenhagen, with lecturer Kristian Melby Østergaard in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Table of contentsPage
Social constructivism
 Anti-essentialism and anti-realism
 Historical and cultural relativism
 Discourse, Knowledge and Truth
Section two
Constraints of youth
 Elevated expectations
Section three
Ontological Security
 Juggernaut of modernity
Compare and contrast 
Reference list
“All men (people) are born free, but everywhere they are in chains”
 (Rousseau, 1998)thisdualism has puzzled some of the greatest philosophers, throughout time. How can anindividual be simultaneously enabled and constrained via society? How can the individualand the social structure effectively operate in harmony?(Layder, 2006). There are no simpleanswers to this question; however, pragmatically, we can attempt to uncover how muchinfluence this axiom has on our contemporary experience. Nevertheless, before we canaddress this paradox, we first need a perspective to put the question into context.Social constructivismMany zealous theological scholars claim the Enlightenment era instigated the currentconsolidation of religious beliefs. This has been apparently achieved via the positivistic
method, and, subsequent, „objectified truths‟ that were uncovered. However, Social
constructionists advocate that social scientists must critically evaluate the heuristic wisdombestowed by rational sciences, as this knowledge has been internalized a
s the „truth‟
viasociety. In essence, social constructionists declare that certain forms of science are a parodyof religion- as both claim categorical truths.
 Anti-essentialism and anti-realism
Since the dawn of thought philosophers have been searching for meaning, a core, an essence,an objectified experience that transcends our perception. Social constructionists refute thesefutile endeavours, asserting that life is simply a process and product of social construction.There is no innate, intrinsic, inflexible essence that guides human behaviour. Their theoriesdo not cater for souls or essentialist concepts, such as, Sense of Coherence. Moreover,sciences have been lulled into imagining that they are authorities on an objectified reality,yet, social constructionists reject reality. Instead, reality is simply constructed amongstpeople- objectified truths are simply a consensus of subjective perceptions. Socialconstructionists dare to trudge on
sciences hallowed sanctuary of „objectified‟ reality.
 Historical and cultural relativism
Therefore, our insights into experience are simply doctrines that are firmly submersed in ourhistorical and cultural context. Cultural specificity has become very apparent in contemporarymulticultural societies, as we begin to see how many people appear to have polarized viewsof reality. Furthermore, globalized media grants us insight, although obscure, into different
cultures, demonstrating how various cultures see different forms of 
„objectified‟ reality
.Similarly, one simply has to converse with people from different generations in order torealise the impact that historical context has on our understandings. Further, gender roleshave changed immensely throughout the past century. Subsequently, the particular forms of explanations that are present in any given context are merely social artefacts instituted viahistory and culture.
 Discourse, Knowledge and Truth
Nonetheless, if reality is simply a product of historical and cultural relativism, how does thisfaçade reproduce? Social constructionists, such as Potter and Wetherell would argue thatdiscourse is the last piece of the puzzle. Discourse is our means of communication.Therefore, it is by our socially determined means of interaction, that we actively externalisephenomena, engage in objectivation, and finally, generate a consensus of reality which islater internalized by society. This cycle continues over time and according to Berger andLuckmann this is how society is constructed, through communication(Burr, 1995).Furthermore, social constructionists reverse the position of language in comparison totraditional psychology. They assert that language is a pre-condition for thought. This accountof language is much more proactive than conventional psychological theories; however, it isvulnerable to condemnation from critics. Further, social constructionists also emphasize thatlanguage is a source of social action. This is apparent in contemporary democracy, and by themanner modern countries approach disagreements- peace talks. Similarly, this is moreevidence to solidify the social constructionist argument; explanations are not established inthe individual psyche nor in social structures, instead it is via the interactive processes thattakes place amongst people.However, our discourses are not simply ambiguous and disconnected, to a certain extent inorder for society to exist harmoniously, we must all sing off the same hymn sheet.Consequentially, there are specific socially constructed entities, such as the governmentwhich regulate the media; that influence the discourses, in order to encourage certain treatiseto persist in society. For example, there has been a shift in how we view health in the last tenyears and cigarette companies are no longer allowed to advertise in the public domain, inmany countries. These social constructs can be deemed ideologies or persuasive discourseswhich are viewed as desirable by a consensus of people that dictate discourse.

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