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Adolescents and Authority Figures


The purpose of this paper is to defend the proposition that the extent to which adolescents differ in values, beliefs, and behavior from the generation that preceded them is the result of their experiences with those in authority. Support for this perspective begins with the work of Jane Lave, Paul Duguid and Nadine Fernandez who, in their review of sociological theory on adolescent rebellion noted that sociological theorists have long reported a connection between rebellious adolescent behavior and negative attitudes toward authority. However, the authors point out that what social theorists have consistently failed to do is explain why some young people development negative anti-authority attitudes other than to relegate these attitudes to parental conflict or maturational restlessness.

With respect to the foregoing, Lave, Duguid and Fernandez expand the scope of sociological theory and analysis through the postulation that it is interaction with the members of one's social class and the neighborhood community that affect attitudes toward authority. In other words, adolescents do not merely develop resistance to authority for psychoemotional or biophysical reasons; rather, attitudes such as resistance to authority or the lack thereof are the result of social interrelationships within class and community collectives.

Given that, at least theoretically, it is reasonable to believe that anti-authority attitudes and consequent generational divergence from cultural beliefs, values, and behavior can, in part, be the result of sociocultural interaction, the question becomes what kind of sociocultural interactions are most likely to influence the development of anti-authority attitudes? Lave, Duguid and Fernandez assert that since social classes and communities within social classes differ in degree of rebellious adolescent attitude, it is those experiences one has an individua...

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Adolescents and Authority Figures. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:33, February 23, 2017, from