Social and Cultural Conditioning of the Concept of Adolescence in the Consciousness of Urban Youth - Reflections Arising From Research
The aim of the work was to widen our knowledge of the functioning of the concept of maturity in the awareness of Polish young people. The main hypothesis tested in the research was: Young people show the tendency to escape from adult life that results on the one hand, from the cult of youth becoming more and more popular, and on the other, from the way young people see and understand the life of adults and the idea of maturity. We consider that this escapist tendency comes from the fact that young people perceive adult life as a period of hardship and tiring effort. Becoming an adult is a process dependent on the social-cultural changes that have taken place in Poland over the last years. In the young these changes, often incomprehensible to them, cause fear, a negative attitude towards the adult world and a tendency to distance themselves from it. The support which young people receive on their way to maturity from the people closest to them has been insufficient. We also consider that the 'main institutions of the adult world' have a disorganising influence on the forming of a consistent and clear image of an adult future in young people. The basic research questions referred to: - defining the idea of maturity by the young; - young people's evaluation of their perceived future adult life; - initiation of maturity; - significant factors conditioning the forming of the concept and the image of adult life in the minds of young people and their individual actions on their way to adulthood. The research was conducted in two stages. It was carried out in public middle schools ('gimnazjum') because the great majority of teenagers attend this type of school. The first stage of the research was limited to the community in the Warsaw district of Bielany, which is well known to the researcher. Above all the research was intended to show the issues of growing up and maturation in a context of quality. It allowed us to refer the results we obtained to the specific conditions in which the young people in question live. The sample amounted to 270 people. The second stage of the research was carried out on a sample from the whole of Warsaw, with the purpose of presenting statistical verification of the main hypothesis, and drawing conclusions which could be regarded as valid for the whole Warsaw population of young people at this age. Warsaw young people were considered as representative of young people from big cities in general. This stage was performed on a representative sample: 1081 respondents. The research was carried out with the use of a questionnaire at the following times: the first stage in May and June 2002, and the second stage in April and May 2003.
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