Adolescent Self-Consciousness and the En Fusion

Adolescent Self-Consciousness and the En Fusion

John Graham Wilson (Assumption University of Thailand, Thailand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6120-0.ch007

Abstract

This chapter aims to bypass the problem of categorizations for the young, offer an explanation of the en fusion as a quasi-organizational force in relation to youth association, and consider what kind of self-consciousness may be said to have developed amongst adolescents and whether any reflexive self-consciousness can act as a quasi-political force running against media manipulation.
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Background

A working definition of any sociological phenomenon should satisfy both rigor and adequate coverage but this chapter notes that alienation rarely fits into any clear-cut categories as defined by a unifying set of attributes.

In print, academics frequently argue about what constitutes group membership (Kruks, 1992). Some theorists move away from the notion of set-theoretic subcultural identities, preferring to describe adolescents as permanently in transition where youth culture is but a fleeting set of options where young people transit through a succession of influences. But this has been contradicted by Bennett (2005) who insists class divisions are very much operative and there are still structurally embedded inequalities that supervene (Bennett, 2005; Shildrick & MacDonald, 2006). Moreover, theorists like Wearing et al. (2013) maintain that youth represents a quasi-political force wielding the power to contradict and threaten hegemonies.

How is one to create systems of classification amongst youth collectives according to, say, age group, gender, social, class, location, dress, behaviour and attitudes? Is this best accommodated by the fuzzy thinking in current sociology as vague differences between a subculture, a clubculture and a lifestyle? (see Winter & Kron, 2009). And how do such distinctions fuse or separate? What precise descriptors would satisfy critical readers from different theoretical persuasions? (Hollands, 2002). Attitudes – especially those bound up with the quaternity concerning states of alienation, are what notionally aggregate amidst variety, but these often report subjective outlooks, and have no objective status in the world—especially in relation to assertions concerning what they think they are not.1

A variety of commentators, appreciating that collectives have few discernible boundaries, and no strict criteria for inclusion or exclusion, have tried to narrow the referents as in the case of Winter and Kron’s (2009) considerations regarding ambiguity; in our case, about whether an individual is classed as “in”or “out” of a particular peer group (Nahon, 2011; Santamarina & Chameau, 1987; Winter & Kron, 2009). Defining oneself by what one is not would be problematic for any set-theoretic system of classification; and yet perhaps, in part, explainable by Sartre’s concept of alterity—the ever-present sense of negation as a vacuum pointing to our sense of aloneness—absence as an impressively negative presence within social relations.2

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