The social and economic transformation of today’s world inevitably means that children and young people are going to experience a world very different from that of their parents. This creates an urgent need for research to examine notions of youth and childhood socialization in a changing context.
Taba (1960) describes how contradictions in Australia’s social character complicate (and sometimes alienate) young people from the socialization process.
There are (and maybe always have been) conflicts in the modern Australian social character which can play a role in the difficulty some experience in developing a healthy understanding of social character. For example we cherish independence but require conformity in many vital aspects of life. We enunciate the ideals of individuality but at the same time put a premium on living up to the comparative norms of age, class and achievement. We expect individuals to be aggressive, to compete, to excel, and at the same time to practise the ideals of cooperation, teamwork and helpfulness. We are dedicated to the idea of equality, yet regard other cultures and many subgroups in our own community as inferior. Young people with a ‘stable’ and supportive family life might be able to accept such contradictions as inevitable, discount their importance and only question the costliness. Those who have greatest difficulty in reconciling or solving such conflict or who resolve it at too great a cost to their personalities become the ‘stepchildren of our culture’.
(Taba 1960: 58)
The ‘strains of acculturation’ as described by Taba (1960) below, are quite extreme for marginalized young people who are commonly left to deal with moral contradictions with very little guidance (if at all) from their home environments.
Most communities (in Australia) are heterogeneous in the sense that they are composed of several more or less functionally integrated collections of subcultures, each with its own system of values and hence, presumably its own modal character. One hears terms such as (‘bogans’, ‘goths’, ‘emos’) to describe current subcultures. There are differences in how authority is viewed, in the role of overt expression of aggressiveness, in models for success, in how such virtues as responsibility, punctuality and cleanliness are regarded, and even in the views regarding the value of school achievement and education. These differences in cultural values and expectations may represent only different degrees of emphasis, or they may amount to outright conflicts in demands, expectations and valuations. As far as individuals are concerned, such conflicts produce strains of acculturation, of which social mobility is one special case. If the cleavages or discontinuities among the demands are too great, these differences, at best, impede socialization into the total culture and learning at school, and at worst may lead to neurotic behaviour such as aggression, hostility, and delinquency, and to disintegration.
Taba wrote about the strains of acculturation in the 1960s. Today more than ever before a renewed focus on socialization is necessary to ameliorate youth marginalization in Australia.
Copyright 2019 Dr Carol Schultz
The Human Flourishing Academy
https://humanflourishingacademy.com offers Courses to teach Professionals and Volunteers to improve their positive engagement and impact when working with marginalized young people. To view these courses visit:
Feel free to like and comment.