As part of my review with my lecturer, he suggested that I read the book Identity: a reader.
This book explores a variety of different theories, by many different theorists, who consider identity as a whole.
The theorist Stuart Hall has a section which questions identity on what it is and who needs identity. Hall states that “identification is constructed on the back of a recognition of some common origin or shared characteristics with another person or group” which may tie in well with my comments in a previous post about conformity and how groups of people act in certain ways and copy others with the desire to ‘fit in’. He also suggested that “identities are constantly in the process of change and transformation” which evidences a comment I have made previously about how the definition of adults and children are transforming, maybe one day they will merge together and there won’t be a definition between the two. Both groups act like one another which may eventually leave the only difference between them being their age. An adult is usually classed as someone over 18, whereas a child anything younger than 18.
Whilst in the library finding identity:a reader, I also took out a few other books which I thought might be able to help me with my research…
Human growth and development, written by Chris Beckett. This book was set out as if it were a psychology course resource, there were lots of questions and tasks which Beckett suggested to do. One thing he said, which really stuck in my mind “When we say ‘let’s sort this out like adults’ or tell someone to ‘grow up and stop acting like a child’, what do we actually mean? What is the essential quality that marks out adulthood and prompts us to label some adults as childish, or adolescent, when they fail to conform to it?” So this led me to consider my own views on the matter. When we say ‘lets sort this out like adults’ I think we mean in a mature manner, being considerable for all parties involved and ending with some kind of mutual and agreed outcome. But then I could ask, what is a mature manner? Some may say it is thinking before saying, in a normal toned calm, voice, respectful and polite. These are just some things I have grown up to know and be taught by. Maybe when adults “fail to conform” to the social norms and what is expected of them, this is when we call them childish because they are not taking their responsibilities and acting as they are expected to by society. This is reinforced as Beckett says “As to the quality that distinguishes adults life from childhood or adolescence, I can’t guess what you decided about this, but when I have discussed this with groups of adult students, the word that tends to come up is ‘responsibility’.”
There is of course another side to this argument, children who act like adults. Some children unfortunately don’t get to choose who they act like, some children are forced to act like adults as they look after their parents. Beckett states that “In Britain alone, some 50,000 children and teenagers are estimated to be acting as carers for adults with disabilities”. I don’t want to dwell on things like this for my assignment, I have in mind these particular children, but I am interested in those children who act like adults because they’re copying their parents or elders. I believe children at a young age are mainly influenced by their parents due to their strong bond and need for care at this age, Maccoby verifies this “Children’s attachment to their parents is a passionate thing.”
Maccoby says that “By the fourth month most infants clearly show that they know and prefer the familiar members of the household-by smiling and cooing more on seeing their faces or hearing their voices-but they are still fairly friendly to strangers.” (Maccoby, 1980) Children will even look up to their elder siblings, children are so influenced by everything around them, especially those older than them who they can look up to.
Book review conclusion
I do not feel satisfied after reading these books that I found what I wanted. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, but I want to find something which evidences what I’m thinking, something which has a direct correlation to adults acting like children and children acting like adults. I will continue to look for this research, although I have found it hard to find books evidencing what I want. At the moment web pages are more useful to me, though its difficult to find a trustworthy source.
Maccoby, E. (1980) Psychological Growth and the Parent-Child Relationship. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace
Gay, P. (2000) identity: a reader. Open University. 1st edn. London: SAGE Publications Ltd
Beckett, C. (2002) Human growth and development. London: SAGE Publications Ltd