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Göteborgs universitets publikationer

Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd edition)

Författare och institution:
Erland Hjelmquist (Psykologiska institutionen)
Publicerad i:
European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,16by R.M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.),
Artikel, recension
Sammanfattning (abstract):
Development occurs in context. Therefore I put this review in the context of the first edition of the handbook, appearing 1980. Undoubtedly, since then, adolescent psychology as a field of scientific study has transformed radically, quantitatively and in scope. This new edition is a much needed comprehensive overview of the current status of adolescent psychology. The approach is different compared to the previous one, and I would say more mature. In the first edition [1] there were chapters like ‘‘The psychodynamic approach to adolescence’’ and ‘‘The biological approach to adolescence’’. This kind of divide between different ‘‘schools’’ is no longer, actually never was, viable, and is not found in the new edition. Instead we meet more integrative ambitions, necessary for navigating in the ever increasing information (250 more pages in the new edition). Is it possible at all to give a coherent picture of the very extensive research on adolescence? This book is a laudable effort to do this and includes frontier results and views, presented in 25 chapters. We are in a bevy of theoretical viewpoints, methodological approaches and oceans of data. Yet, the core meaning of adolescence is an escaping figure. This is demonstrated in the foreword by William Demon, in the results of his informal inquiry to about 20 adolescent researchers: ‘‘What is adolescence?’’ Quite a few gave ‘‘puberty’’ as a starting point but were more varied about the end of adolescence, amounting to something like: ‘‘a stable personal commitment to an adult role’’. It is no surprise, of course, that adolescent psychology thus has one foot in biology and the other foot in social contexts and culture, just like all developmental psychology. The nature-nurture issue is therefore as topical as ever, necessarily, among other things as a consequence of the continuous unravelling of the intricacies of the human genome and its interaction with environmental conditions. It is also clear that in the new edition, the longitudinal approach, devoted a chapter in the previous edition, now is bearing fruit, offering important insights into among other things the development of delinquency, psychopathology, and drug abuse. It is surprising though, that the very productive research on the development of ‘‘theory of mind’’, among children, and also to some extent adults, seems not to have entered the scene of adolescent cognition. The new edition also includes other than the typical Western society perspective (the famous/infamous ‘‘Coming of age in Samoa’’ by Margaret Mead [2], appropriately referred to in one of the chapters, is of course an early example of an analysis of a non-Western culture). One of the chapters is on ‘‘globalization’’, further stressing that Western psychology must broaden its perspectives beyond the ‘‘standard’’ cultures. An interesting possibility is that the process of globalization and modernization actually implies that Western models and theories of adolescence will appear as more important and relevant than previously. The rapid transformation of many non-Western societies puts enormous strains on individuals and families, including child rearing practice and the entrance into the roles as adult and member of society in contexts that until recently were traditional. In this sense adolescent psychology faces tremendous challenges if it aspires to relevance in time and space. The ambitions of the handbook are abreast with these challenges, with renowned researchers as contributors. In this perspective, it is a pity, though, that the chapters are written almost exclusively by North American researchers, with the exception of some European contributors. Nevertheless, this is a seminal book on adolescent psychology, well written and highly recommended.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Adolescence, nature-nuture, biology, culture
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2007-09-14 13:12

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