Sociology/Social Work Questions Research Paper

Pages: 8 (3101 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] The development of intimacy is associated strongly with the development of individual independence, independence from structures and systems that have supported and aided a young person up to this point. Most believe that individuals who fail to develop positive intimate relationships are limited in the capacity to thrive as adults, in a myriad of ways, including but not limited to living on one's own, supporting his or her own social and emotional health and generally becoming a productive adult. The foundational development of intimacy with another adult develops empathy, social tolerance, a strong sense of self-identity, social caring, trust and trustworthiness and several other aspects of important social and human development (Lobel & Winch, 1988). According to Erikson the 6th stage of psychosocial development, intimacy vs. isolation is that which occurs from ages 20-35, namely the years when one is seeking to make intimate connections with others outside of family, possibly to begin their own family. The theory of psychosocial stages is based on the idea that during certain periods of one's life he or she experiences stages which are particularly high in both possibilities and vulnerabilities and therefore represent essential periods of individual growth and/or stagnation, where the effects of each stage is cumulative and any limitations or successes in achievement of the prior stages can affect the development of the later stages (Hamachek, 1990, pp. 677-678).

According to Lobel & Winch the stages of development are not discrete nor is any stage "completed" as an aspect of development, as they point out in a brief interpretation of Erickson's theory:

…it is important to recognize that the ego qualities associated with each stage are not "achieved" once and for all nor are they by forever overcoming challenges, The basic conflicts remain throughout the life cycle. In Erikson's words (1959), the human personality "to remain psychologically alive must resolve these conflicts unceasingly" (p. 51) Thus what a person acquires at each stage is what Erikson (1959) identified as; "a certain ratio between the positive and negative which, if the balance is toward the positive, will help him to meet later crises with a better chance for unimpaired total development" (p. 61) ( Lobel & Winch, 1988, p. 679)

What this basically means is that if the individual manages to achieve intimacy on a learning level during early adulthood and that intimacy is mostly positive in its ability to teach the individual the important aspects of the stage of development then he or she will be more able to achieve later stage learning. Without a positive leaning balance the individual may find difficulty in achieving success in lower level of intimacy relationships, such as those associated with the workplace and the next stage of psychosocial development (generativity vs. stagnation). The result of this negative leaning balance, i.e. A poorly developed level of intimacy and limited learning level intimate relationships between the ages of 20-35 may result in difficulty developing the successes associated with productive work and productive low level intimate relationships needed for success in this area. The individual might find it very difficult to trust others and act and live in a trustworthy manner and may have an excess of continual conflicts in their intimate and non-intimate relationships, causing further developmental challenges. It is also important to state that according to most developmental theory those who have success at normal development in any given stage from birth to adulthood will have an easier time with each, in other words intimacy may be hampered by a negative leaning balance in any of the first few stages of development. On the issue of trust, an individual who failed to elicit trust in infancy (with negative or sporadic caregivers) might also find it difficult to enter into the concepts of trust as an adult in relationships intimate or otherwise.

4. Discuss the relationship of gang membership to the psychosocial needs of early adolescence. Compare and contrast how gang membership is similar to and different from other types of group identification?

The relationship of gang membership to early adolescent psychosocial needs is relatively straight forward. The individual adolescent may see and experience the gang as an alternative to family, almost regardless of the positive or negative nature of the family relationship but more often when the family relationship is lacking. It is normal during this period to begin to see peers as more important in one's life than family, as this is the period of life when individuals begin to develop independence from family and learn to cope without direct family aid. Though the separation of the individual from the family is a normal stage of development, that can play out in extremely positive ways the fact that this is the stage that individuals experience this separation to autonomy that creates vulnerability to negative associations, such as gang involvement. This and other important reasons make gang membership particularly troubling during this age. That being said with the inclusion of other factors, i.e. The gang recognizes the power struggle a young adult has in the culture as well as stimulates a sense of expression of rebellion (rebellion from family and what is "right" in the way one is expected to act) and/or aggression that is often suppressed rather than given positive outlets in our society. According to one study both peers and teachers reported and perceived gang members between the ages of 11 and 14 as more aggressive and oppositional than nongang members in the same age bracket:

Repeated analyses of variance indicated that stable gang members had significantly higher scores than nongang members on teacher ratings of fighting behaviour, hyperactivity, inattention and oppositional behaviour, and self-reported delinquent activities (drug and alcohol use, stealing and vandalism). Peers rated gang members as more aggressive than nongang members (Craig, Vitaro, Gagnon & Tremblay, 2002, p. 53).

It is likely no coincidence that the types of behaviors that some of these individuals express are outlets for suppressed aggression as well as ways in which an individual inside the gang culture demonstrates social superiority and achieves higher levels of social capital. In a sense the association of an individual to a gang can be perceived as a pseudo family that "gets" what and who they are and what is important about the struggle to both be accepted by peers outside the family and achieve a level of social capital that can protect them from real harm that is associated with social and physical life for some teens. One study looks at the incidence of aggression among teens and finds that in general as young people age they become less likely to exhibit acts of aggression but that among those who affiliated with gangs the likelihood was greater as was the likelihood for that aggression to be proactive (instigating a fight) rather than exclusively reactive (protecting one's self from harm in an aggressive manner) (Barker, Tremblay, Nagin, Vitaro & Lacourse, 2006, pp. 786-787). Though it is unknown if this propensity drove affiliation in gang membership or if it is a product of it, but it is likely both as is the propensity for those who have weaker family ties, i.e. absent parents (single family homes) or parents who are less active in their lives, like parents who work many hours and have only limited time to either interact with or supervise children (hence lower socioeconomic status) but that these situations are not necessarily mutually exclusive of gang affiliation (as these factors were not directly studied) while exhibition of both reactive and proactive aggression is. This brief research on this topic give this student a greater understanding of all the possible influences development can have on gang affiliation and delinquent behaviors in general. It is also important to note that most research regarding gang affiliation is conducted on males, as they are in conjecture more likely to be involved in gang activity and gang activity that involves violence. There may clearly be differences between genders with regard to propensity, reasoning and involvement in gangs but there is little real evidence that gender is an exclusive clue as to what is occurring when individuals affiliate with gangs in adolescence and research regarding female involvement, impetus and activity, is sorely needed (Rhodes & Fischer, 1993).

References

Barker, E.D., Tremblay, R.E., Nagin, D.S., Vitaro, F., & Lacourse, E. (2006). Development of male proactive and reactive physical aggression during adolescence. Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 47(8), 783-790. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01585.x

Craig, W.M., Vitaro, F., Gagnon, C., & Tremblay, R.E. (2002). The road to gang membership: Characteristics of male gang and nongang members from ages 10 to 14. Social Development, 11(1), 53-68. doi:10.1111/1467-9507.00186

Emanuel, E.J., & Emanuel, L.L. (1998). The promise of a good death. Lancet, 351(9114), SII21.

Hamachek, D. (1990). Evaluating self-concept and ego status in Erikson's last three psychosocial stages. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 68(6), 677-683.

Hesketh, K.K., Wake, M.M., & Waters,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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