From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Youth culture is “the sum of the ways of living of adolescents; it refers to the body of norms, values, and practices recognized and shared by members of the adolescent society as appropriate guides to actions” This definition includes two elements. The first is culture, which can be defined as the symbolic systems, and processes of maintaining and transforming those systems, that people share. The second part of this definition is that youth culture is specific to adolescents, and differs at least partially from the culture of older generations.
Elements of youth culture include beliefs, behaviors, styles, and interests. An emphasis on clothes, popular music, sports, vocabulary, and dating set adolescents apart from other age groups, giving them what many believe is a distinct culture of their own. Within youth culture, there are many distinct and constantly changing youth subcultures. These subcultures’ norms, values, behaviors, and styles vary widely, and may differ from the general youth culture.
Existence of youth culture
There is debate within the scientific community about whether or not youth culture exists. Some researchers argue that youth’s values and morals are not distinct from those of their parents, which means that youth culture is not a separate culture. Others note that we must be cautious about extrapolating a current effect to other periods of history. Just because we see the presence of what seems to be a youth culture today does not mean that this phenomenon extends to all generations of young people. Additionally, peer influence varies greatly between contexts and by sex, age, and social status, making a single “youth culture” difficult, if not impossible, to define
Others argue that there are definite elements of youth society that constitute culture, and that these elements differ from those of their parents’ culture. Janssen et al. have used the terror management theory (TMT) to argue for the existence of youth culture. TMT is a psychological concept that hypothesizes that culture originates from an attempt to cope with the knowledge of their mortality. Society does this by adopting a worldview and developing self-esteem. Researchers test TMT by exposing people to reminders of their mortality. TMT is supported if being reminded of death causes people to cling more strongly to their worldview. Janssen et al. tested the following hypothesis: “If youth culture serves to help adolescents deal with problems of vulnerability and finiteness, then reminders of mortality should lead to increased allegiance to cultural practices and beliefs of the youth.” Their results supported their hypothesis and the results of previous studies, suggesting that youth culture is, in fact, a culture.
Schwartz and Merten used the language of adolescents to argue for the presence of youth culture as distinct from the rest of society. Schwartz argued that high school students used their vocabulary to create meanings that are distinct to adolescents. Specifically, the adolescent status terminology (the words that adolescents use to describe hierarchical social statuses) contains qualities and attributes that are not present in adult status judgments. According to Schwartz, this reflects a difference in social structures and the way that adults and teens experience social reality. This difference indicates cultural differences between adolescents and adults, which supports the presence of a separate youth culture.