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Teen SpiritHow Adolescence Transformed the Adult World$
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Paul Howe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749827

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749827.001.0001

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Problems of the Present

Problems of the Present

(p.73) 4 Problems of the Present
Teen Spirit

Paul Howe

Cornell University Press

This chapter explains that what it means to be a normal adult has changed down the years as a result of normal adolescent qualities slowly migrating upward into adulthood. These changes in basic character traits and their diverse consequences certainly have not gone unnoticed — they just have not typically been identified as reflections of the adolescent nature of today's society. There is no shortage of references in current social commentary to problems that have crept up on us over time and which appear to stem from the gradual erosion of traditional norms and practices of adulthood. Among the most commonly cited trends: we do not participate in politics or civic affairs the way we used to; we have become overly materialistic, hedonistic, and detached from the more meaningful aspects of our lives; our shared cultural life has been hollowed out and dumbed down; and civility in personal relations and the public sphere has fallen by the wayside. Such laments are sometimes countered, rightly so, by noting that we have also left behind much of the rigidity and dogmatic thinking that characterized the adult world of the past. The adolescent society perspective casts these diverse trends in a new light by linking them to a common source of social change.

Keywords:   adults, adolescent qualities, adulthood, adolescent society, politics, civic affairs, shared cultural life, social change, civility, personal relations

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