THE INFLUENCE OF PERCEIVED YOUTH CULTURE ON SOCIAL ORIENTATION OF UNDERGRADUATES
The study examined the influence of youth culture on the social orientation of adolescents in University of Lagos, Akoka Lagos. The descriptive research survey was employed to assess the opinions of the respondents. A total of 120 (one hundred and twenty) students were sampled for this study. Four null hypotheses were formulated and tested using the t-test and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the analyses, the following conclusions were reached: Hypothesis one found that there is a significant influence of perceived youth culture on social orientation of undergraduates at University of Lagos; Hypothesis two found that there is a significant gender impact in youth culture on social orientation of adolescents in schools; Hypothesis three found that there is a significant class difference in perceived youth cultural impact on social orientation of undergraduates and finally finally, hypothesis four found that there is a significant effect of perceived youth cultural impact on social orientation of undergraduates living in the hostels and those who do not live in the hostels. Based on the conclusions arrived at, at the end of this study, the following recommendations were made as possible solutions to the problem of perceived low social orientation of youths in the school and outside of it: Youths should exhibit proper attitude to their cultural heritage. They should also understand that for them to be able to uphold good or higher social orientation, they would do well to possess high or healthy self-concept which is a positive way of how an individual sees himself/herself. It is recommended that youths should possess high and healthy self-concept in order to do well in life. Both male and female students should inculcate their cultural values and norms that are required in the society. They should not try to uphold those norms and values that are inimical to the cultural heritage in a normal and decent society. Male and female youths of the society should know that they are the leaders of tomorrow, and as such, they should keep to the cultures and behaviours that are accepted in their community, rather than behaving unseemingly and irrationally, which is not a healthy attribute of a good society. Male and female youths should socialize correctly, doing it with decorum and maturity. They should shun acts and behaviours that can make them to be seen as delinquents and indisciplined in the society.
The study of every unit of social organization must eventually lead to an analysis of the interaction of its elements. According to Rummer (1996) social interactions are the acts, actions, or practices of two or more people mutually oriented towards each other’s selves, that is, any behaviour that tries to affect or take account of each other’s subjective experiences or intentions. This means that the parties to the social interaction must be aware of each other, have each other’s self in mind as in the case of the adolescents of the youths culture group under study. Generally, the adolescents in our institutions of learning interacts and are influenced by various aspects of life such as dressing – same clothing styles, same hair-do, diet, friends, sexual behaviour, use of same slang expression, entertainment and attitude towards authority figures and academic pursuits. The youth may be single sex, mixed group of young people who are usually bound together by same emotion such as a group is commonly found within a school, youth club, church or mosque. In each case the adolescent encounters his mates and social interactions ensue immediately. Members of the youth culture, have strong feelings of friendship for one another and help provide opportunity to develop social skill that will help the youth make social, emotional and personal adjustment. Moreover, social interaction requires mutual orientation. Therefore, peer acceptance is very fundamental and crucial at this stage as attested to by Osarenren (2005). She said, adolescents who are liked and accepted (star) by their peers are more likely to be psychologically healthier and self confident than those rejected (isolate) by their peers. This is in agreement with Nwadinigwe (2004) who opines that when the adolescent is not able to relate well, he becomes withdrawn, feels rejected, depressed and frustrated. He further added that his level of concentration in school, motivation to learn and performance in subjects invariably becomes negatively affected. When this type of situation arises, Osarenren (2005) asserts that it is worthwhile for an older adult, preferably an understanding elder, counsellor, parent or teacher to intervene. The interaction may lead to the beginning of a more constructive interpersonal relationship for a rejected adolescent. But, Sokan and Akinade (1994) opined that the generation gap syndrome often causes conflicts between parents/adult differences, there is bound to be incongruence in views, beliefs and even attitudes.
According to Anusiem (1987), some observers pointed out that youth of today are more rebellious, more troubled emotionally more promiscuous sexually, less idealistic, more critical of values and standards of the adult culture (hence the so-called generation gap), more disengaged from these values than in order times. These observers also cite demonstrations and strikes, riots in university campuses and other institutions of higher learning, so-called lack of respect for constituted authorities, increased use of drugs, confrontation with police and law enforcement agents, increase rate of pregnancy among school girls, drop-outs from schools and so on and emphasize that we are in troubled times. It is against this background that Siann and Ugwuegbu, in Anusiem (1987) argue that where society places excessive demands on adolescents, where it supplies no clear expectations of the future, and where society is changing so rapidly that the adolescent has no one to model himself on, adolescence may on occasion be a period of storm and stress’, not because adolescents are by nature emotionally unstable but because too much is being demanded of them. On this note, the need to understand and appreciate the youths as they relates with themselves is pertinent even as they undergo ‘The crisis period’ according to Osarenren (2005) which are exhibited in different forms of worries and concern such as identity formation, development of moral and values and quest for independence amongst others. Hence, the youth often times relating and depending on his peers who are facing similar problems and who are therefore sympathetic. Hurlock (1993), views socialization as a process of learning to conform to group standards, mores, and customs. It is a learning process which renders a person able to participate satisfactorily in a social group or society. Therefore, social orientation explores how comfortable the youth is when dealing with a lot of people on a regular basis. Hence, to Nwadinigwe (2004) when an individual receives proper socialization, he adjusts easily in the society. This study is therefore interested in investigating how the perceived youth culture influences the social orientation of undergraduates in University of Lagos.
1.1 Theoretical Background
Several theories explain what influences social orientation of youths in our institutions of learning and the society at large. Some of these theories will offer the theoretical basis of this study. They include: consensus, conflict and interactionist theories of youth culture and symbolic interaction and social influence theories as related to the youths social orientation. The symbolic-interaction theory by Mead (1990) assumes that social interaction can best be understood by studying humans, because people evidently possess the ability to think, reason and plan, which is not possessed by other animals. Thus, the theory calls attention to cognitive processes and therefore has a psychological base. The approach is likewise very sociological in that one of its major concerns is to understand the cooperative dimensions of human social behaviour, which was the essence of society. The theory further suggests that people mentally explore the possible reactions of others to specific behaviours and uses this information to decide how to act toward other people. However, the self is a central concept here. People can interact with themselves just as they do, with others. This explains why we have the ‘crowd’ and ‘gang’ amongst the youth whose function according to Nwachukwu (1993) is its provision of a group identity for the individual adolescents – the ‘we’ feeling which separates him/her from the parents of the family. Social influence theory – The Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) according to Aaron (1994) proposes that human behaviour is influenced by two factors:
- attitudes towards the behaviour
- the influence of social environment and general subjective norms on the behaviour.
Social norms are determined by examples that significant others set for us and by the attitudes they convey to us. However, according to Lewin in Turner (1991), group decision studies once showed how difficult it is to change individuals behaviour in isolation from the norms they share as group members. He further said that we develop attitudes toward behaviour and understand social, norms through learning. Social influence or interaction between people who are related to each other psychologically as members of positive reference groups or culture gives rise to shared social norms in relevant areas. Early studies in youth culture were mainly produced by functionalist sociologists, and focus on youth as a single form of culture. In explaining the development of the culture, they utilized the concept of anomie. Parsons (1994) argued that as we move from one pattern of behaviour to another (from the family to work, for example) the concept of ‘anomie’ comes into play. He further added that though the family group is the primary unit of socialization in the society, the behaviour learnt within the family group is unlikely to be considered appropriate in other social groups (such as education or work). This is because the values and norms we learn during childhood within the family are not totally appropriate to the norms we need to display in later life in other institutions. And this brings about an “anomic situation”
– feelings of unhappiness, isolation, loneliness and uncertainties. Hence, to avoid to some extent the anomic situation, there is good evidence that youth in the process of interacting, from and conform to social norms and goals of the group (Turner, 1991). Conflict (Marxist-type) theories of youth culture generally see human behaviour in terms of the various ways in which the structure of people’s relationships broadly conditions the way they behave, writers in this perspective tend to focus on the complex nature of individual/social group responses to the social environment in which they live (Adamson, 2000). The theory propounded by Allium (2001), tend to focus attention on categories such as social classes (upper, middle and lower working class) and possibly more importantly class-fractions rather than “Youth as a whole”. In this respect an individuals position in a system of social stratification affects, how they experience the social world and the benefits they develop about the nature of the social world and their relative prospects. It could be seen from the above that Marxist perspectives on youth sub-cultures develop around the need to explain how and why different social groups (abbeit predominantly male and working class groups) respond to the structural pressures that surround them (Almond, 1997). To achieve this theoretical explanation, two levels of analysis are frequently used
- firstly, a macro level that seeks to understand the social structural pressures (economic, political and ideological) that surround and act on our choices of behaviour.
- secondly, a micro level that seeks to understand the various ways that different groups respond to these pressures.
In analysing this second level, Mc Robbie and Garber (1995) writing about female teenage subcultures attempted to explain why these female subcultures are expressed differently to male subcultures. The behaviour of teenage girls in society is more closely controlled by parents. Also young girls are far more likely than young boys to attract negative labelling for their behaviour. On the issue of class by Marxist, it should be noted herein, that youths in the undergraduate level are seen identifying with those who are popular academically or materially. To this, Eaton (1990) in a study found that student who were popular with their peers tended to be more successful in school work than those who were rejected by them. He also discovered that there was a stronger relationship between achievement in school and peer acceptance, than between achievement in other school activities and peer acceptance. However, Coleman (1991) in an earlier study had results that were not consistent with Eaton’s. The former found that boys valued athletic status while girls valued popularity and leadership in extra class activities more than scholastic achievement. Hence, like class, gender is not simply a social category but relative and relational: women and men as social groups are defined in terms of each other.
Lastly, the Interactionist Theory of Youth Culture. One of the most significant concepts in interactionist approach and analyses of deviance is that in order for behaviour to be seen as deviant, there must be some form of publicly-stated response. Cohen (1994) argues that what is significant about youth subcultures is not that they are either functionally necessary or indicative of attempts by powerless youths to resist ‘hegemony’. Rather his basic argument is that youth subculture are effectively created, maintained and killed off by the mass media. He further argues that sociological attempts to explain youth cultures or subcultures in terms of structural pressures forcing a reaction amongst misconceived, since such attempts fail to recognise that youth cultures are not social groupings that arise “spontaneously” as a reaction to social forces. The crucial variable involved here is that of the mass media as a form of social reaction. The media in effect, provide an ideological framework which gives meaning to the behaviour of people that prior to the labelling process, may not have had any coherent meaning like the popularisation of a spectacular subculture such as the Hippy movement in the 1960’s. This was also confirmed in Cohen’s (1994) classic study where he illustrated the idea of media involvement in the manufacture of spectacular youth subcultures in numerous ways, the most striking being his analysis of the relationship between “mods” and “rockern”. These two groups, he argues came to see themselves as being implacably and violently opposed through numerous media references to their opposition. This could be likened to the present ‘Area Boys’ or ‘OPC’ in Nigeria today. However, it was noted by Ross Farelly (internet) that modern electronic media allow children and youth to live in a socially isolated, individualised world which is entirely a creation of the youth culture itself.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There are many problems associated with the youths who are found both in the post primary schools and tertiary institutions. The problems ranges from indecent dressing, emulating negative peer attitude, cheating, disobedience, promiscuity, drug abuse, use and addiction etc. According to Onyeuke (2002) adolescents in tertiary institutions adopt some cultures that are inimical to the ones acceptable in the society or community. Belonging to secret cults, challenging the laid down rules and regulations of the school authority, smoking and general indisciplinary behaviour, characterize the youths at school. According to him, this is as a result of borrowed culture by the youths. A situation where the adolescent discards the cultural values and norms with which he/she was brought up and cleaves to another culture and negative ways of behaviour due to the negative influence of peer pressure and all in the name of ‘civilization’. The negative attitude of youths is a problem because if it is not checked by the relevant authorities at home in school and the society at large, it could pose a great danger in the immediate society and the future generation.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The major reason for this study is to investigate the influence of perceived youth culture on the social orientation of undergraduates. Specifically the study intends to find out whether
- The youth culture influences their social orientation.
- Gender in the perceived youth culture influences social orientation.
- Class/status of students in the perceived youth culture influences their social orientation.
- Environment of students affects their social orientation.
1.4 Research Questions
The study will be guided by the following research questions:
1. To what extent does the perceived youth culture influences social orientation of adolescents.
2. To what extent does the sex of students in the perceived youth culture affects their social orientation.
3. To what extent does the class difference of students in the perceived youth culture affects their social orientation.
4. To what extent does the environment of the youth influences their social orientation.
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