The Social World of Adolescents: International Perspectives

The Social World of Adolescents: International Perspectives

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Klaus Hurrelmann is Professor of Public Health and Education at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. The author of many books, he has taught in the U.S. as well as Germany and was named one of Cicero’s 500 most influencial German intellectuals in February 2013. In this volume of essays by experts in adolescent psychology, Hurrelmann has collected different intepretations of what he sees as a 15-year period which is "some kind of experimental laboratory for new forms of coping with the challenges of life." For more information see:

The manner young people master everyday life has become a model for people in other life-phases. The reason being that the youthful phase is no long a transitional phase leading to “full maturity.” Consequently, the way of coping with developmental tasks in adolescence is becoming increasingly typical for subsequent stages of life. In other words, living with uncertainty and disruptions; enduring restrictions to one’s autonomy; and the constant effort to deal with “status inconsistency” has become characteristic of life for many adults today.

The book “The Social World of Adolescence”, published in 1989, has already captured this spirit 25 years ago. Several of the authors in this book demonstrate that young people are pioneers in the development of a lifestyle that responds to the latest cultural, economic and social shifts in society. Young people intuitively refuse to follow the traditional patterns that shaped the lives of older generations. Today’s open, dynamic, tension-filled life demands necessitate reflexive action management. It is precisely this lifestyle orientation that is preferred by most young people. The articles in this book describe the social world of adolescence as a blend between self-reference, sensitive behavior and a somehow opportunistic attitude; requiring young people to feel their way cautiously, while at the same time strategizing carefully. They have to react unselfconsciously; yet respond openly and flexibly to rapidly shifting life-conditions. Improvised lifestyle elements are at least as important as routinely experienced behavior patterns.

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