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Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives

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Youth Age Range in the World: A Comprehensive Overview
Youth Age Range in the World: A Comprehensive Overview

Introduction

Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives
Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives

Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives. The definition of youth has been a topic of discussion among scholars from various fields for decades. Scholars have attempted to define youth from different perspectives such as historical, sociological, psychological, anthropological, philosophical, economic, and political science. Each field has its own unique understanding of youth, and their definitions have evolved over time.

Historically, youth was defined as a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. However, sociological definitions of youth have shifted to include not only the age range of 15 to 24 but also the social and cultural context in which youth live. Psychological perspectives on youth focus on the development of cognitive, emotional, and social skills during adolescence. Anthropological understanding of youth examines the cultural differences in the experiences of youth around the world. Youth in the lens of philosophy explores the role of youth in society and the moral obligations of society towards youth. Economic interpretations of youth examine the economic opportunities and challenges faced by young people. Lastly, political science and youth explore the role of youth in politics and policymaking.

Despite the varied definitions of youth, scholars agree that youth is a critical period of life that shapes the future of individuals and society. Understanding the definition of youth is crucial for policymakers, educators, and social workers who work with young people. The following sections will explore the different definitions of youth from various fields and highlight the key takeaways from each perspective.

Key Takeaways on Definition of Youth by Scholars

  • Scholars from different fields have attempted to define youth from different perspectives such as historical, sociological, psychological, anthropological, philosophical, economic, and political science.
  • The definitions of youth have evolved over time and have shifted to include not only the age range of 15 to 24 but also the social and cultural context in which youth live.
  • Understanding the definition of youth is crucial for policymakers, educators, and social workers who work with young people.

Historical Perspective of Youth

The definition of youth has evolved over time. In ancient times, youth was considered to be the period between childhood and adulthood. During the Middle Ages, youth was considered to be the period between the ages of 7 and 21. In the 19th century, youth was defined as the period between childhood and maturity, which was typically around the age of 25.

During the 20th century, there was a shift in the definition of youth. The term “adolescence” was coined to describe the period between childhood and adulthood. This period was characterized by physical, emotional, and psychological changes, and was seen as a distinct stage of development.

Overlapping with adolescence, the term “youth” became popular about the time of the UN’s first International Youth Year, in 1985. Although youth is now typically defined as the period between 15 and 24 years of age, the Barcelona Statement from the associated world congress defined youth as a social category, and the congress proceedings were remarkable because of the absence of age definitions.

Today, the definition of youth continues to evolve. While age is still a factor in defining youth, there is a growing recognition that youth is also a social category that is shaped by cultural, economic, and political factors. As a result, the definition of youth varies across different cultures and contexts.

Sociological Definitions of Youth

Scholars have defined youth in various ways, and sociologists have been particularly interested in understanding the social, cultural, and economic contexts that shape young people’s experiences. According to Noel (2014), youth can be defined as a transitional stage between childhood and adulthood, during which young people acquire the skills, knowledge, and values necessary to become independent and responsible members of society. This definition emphasizes the importance of socialization, education, and personal development in the process of becoming an adult.

Another approach to defining youth is to focus on the age range that characterizes this stage of life. According to the United Nations, youth can be broadly defined as individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, although this age range can vary depending on cultural and social factors. This definition highlights the fact that youth is a time-limited period in a person’s life, during which they face specific challenges and opportunities related to education, employment, and social relationships.

Sociologists have also explored the ways in which youth is constructed and represented in different social contexts. For example, Wyn (2020) argues that youth is a socially constructed category that reflects broader cultural and historical changes in the way young people are viewed and valued. She suggests that youth is not a fixed or universal category, but rather a fluid and dynamic social identity that is shaped by social, cultural, and economic factors.

Overall, sociological definitions of youth emphasize the importance of understanding the social and cultural contexts in which young people live, and the ways in which these contexts shape their experiences and identities. By exploring the various dimensions of youth, sociologists can gain insights into the complex processes of socialization, identity formation, and social change that shape young people’s lives.

Psychological Perspectives on Youth

Psychological perspectives on youth have evolved over time, with scholars offering different definitions of what it means to be young. From a cognitive perspective, youth is a period of rapid cognitive development, with significant changes in thinking, perception, and problem-solving abilities. Emotional development, on the other hand, focuses on the changes in emotional regulation, self-awareness, and social relationships that occur during adolescence.

Cognitive Development on Definition of Youth by Scholars

Cognitive development during youth is characterized by significant changes in the way young people think and perceive the world around them. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, youth is a period of formal operational thought, where individuals are able to think abstractly, understand hypothetical situations, and engage in deductive reasoning. This is a marked departure from the concrete operational thinking of childhood, where individuals are limited to thinking about concrete objects and events.

Other scholars have built on Piaget’s theory, arguing that cognitive development in youth is more nuanced and context-dependent. For example, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory emphasizes the role of social interaction and cultural context in shaping cognitive development. From this perspective, youth is a period of social and cultural apprenticeship, where young people learn through interactions with more knowledgeable peers and adults.

Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives
Definition of Youth by Scholars: Understanding the Different Perspectives

Emotional Development

Emotional development during youth is characterized by significant changes in emotional regulation, self-awareness, and social relationships. According to Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, youth is a period of identity exploration, where individuals are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in society. This can be a challenging and confusing time, as young people navigate the complex social and emotional landscape of adolescence.

Other scholars have focused on the role of social relationships in emotional development. For example, attachment theory emphasizes the importance of secure attachments with caregivers in promoting emotional regulation and healthy social relationships. From this perspective, youth is a period of increasing independence and autonomy, but also a time when young people need supportive relationships with adults and peers to navigate the challenges of adolescence.

In summary, psychological perspectives on youth offer different definitions of what it means to be young, with a focus on cognitive and emotional development. While there is no one-size-fits-all definition of youth, understanding the complex and dynamic nature of psychological development during this period can help educators, parents, and policymakers better support young people as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Anthropological Understanding of Youth

Anthropology has long been interested in understanding youth as a distinct social category. Scholars in this field have explored the ways in which young people experience and navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood, as well as the cultural and social factors that shape this experience.

One key insight of anthropological research on youth is the importance of cultural context in shaping young people’s experiences. For example, cross-cultural studies have shown that the experience of adolescence varies widely across different societies, with some cultures emphasizing the importance of early marriage and family formation, while others prioritize education and career development.

Another important theme in anthropological research on youth is the role of agency and resistance in young people’s lives. While young people are often seen as passive recipients of adult socialization, anthropologists have shown that young people are active agents in shaping their own lives and identities. This can take many forms, from resistance to adult authority to the creation of new cultural practices and identities.

Anthropological research on youth has also highlighted the importance of social networks and peer groups in shaping young people’s experiences. For example, studies have shown that peer groups can provide important sources of support and identity formation for young people, particularly in contexts where traditional family structures are breaking down.

Overall, anthropological research on youth offers a rich and nuanced understanding of the ways in which young people experience and navigate the transition to adulthood. By emphasizing the importance of cultural context, agency, and social networks, this research provides valuable insights into the diversity of youth experiences around the world.

Youth in the Lens of Philosophy

The concept of youth has been a subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries. Philosophers have explored the meaning of youth, its relationship to adulthood, and the ways in which it shapes society. Some scholars argue that youth is a social construct, while others believe that it is a biological stage of development.

One of the most influential philosophers in the study of childhood and youth is Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau believed that children are born with an innate sense of morality and that society corrupts them. He argued that children should be allowed to develop naturally without the constraints of society.

Another philosopher who has contributed to the study of youth is Michel Foucault. Foucault believed that youth is a product of power relations in society. He argued that youth is constructed by institutions such as schools, the media, and the government. Foucault believed that these institutions use their power to control and regulate youth.

Philosophers have also explored the relationship between youth and adulthood. Some argue that youth is a transitional stage between childhood and adulthood, while others believe that it is a distinct stage of development. The philosopher G. Stanley Hall coined the term “adolescence” to describe the period between childhood and adulthood.

In conclusion, the study of youth in the lens of philosophy has been a rich and varied field. Philosophers have explored the meaning of youth, its relationship to adulthood, and the ways in which it shapes society. Their insights have helped to shape our understanding of youth and its place in the world.

Economic Interpretations of Youth

The economic interpretation of youth is an important aspect of the definition of youth. According to a study by the United Nations, youth is defined as those individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This age range is often used for statistical purposes, although the definition of youth can change depending on the circumstances, especially with changes in demographic, financial, economic, and socio-cultural factors.

One of the economic interpretations of youth is the concept of “opportunity youth.” This term refers to young people who are not in school or working. A study by the Economic Value of Opportunity Youth found that the economic burden of opportunity youth depends on their age. The burden is calculated for each year of youth between the ages of 16 and 24, as well as for the potential lost in adulthood between the ages of 25 and 65. The lifetime total burden is the sum of these youth and adult burdens.

Another economic interpretation of youth is the concept of “youth unemployment.” Youth unemployment refers to the number of young people who are unemployed but actively seeking employment. According to a study by the International Labour Organization, youth unemployment is a global issue that affects both developed and developing countries. The study found that youth unemployment rates are generally higher than adult unemployment rates, and that young people are often more vulnerable to unemployment due to their lack of experience and skills.

Overall, the economic interpretations of youth are important in understanding the challenges and opportunities facing young people. By recognizing the economic factors that shape the definition of youth, policymakers and researchers can better understand how to support young people as they transition into adulthood.

Political Science and Youth

Political science scholars have been studying youth political participation to better understand the role of young people in democratic societies. According to a literature review on youth political participation, representatives of the disengagement paradigm argue that young adults are the least likely to vote in national elections, have low levels of political interest, and are dropping out of political parties [1]. However, there is currently a wide agreement that the forms, repertoires, and targets of youth political engagement are changing and expanding [2].

Creative and non-traditional forms of engagement are on the rise, pointing towards a shift away from traditional political party membership and electoral politics [2]. Young people are increasingly using digital technologies to participate in politics, such as through social media campaigns and online activism [2].

Moreover, scholars have recognized that youth political participation is not limited to formal political institutions but also includes community-based organizations, social movements, and civil society groups [2]. Youth-led social movements have emerged in recent years, such as the March for Our Lives movement and the Sunrise Movement, which have mobilized young people around issues like gun control and climate change [2].

In conclusion, political science scholars have recognized that youth political participation is changing and expanding beyond traditional forms of engagement. Young people are increasingly using digital technologies and participating in community-based organizations and social movements to make their voices heard on issues that matter to them.

[1] Frontiers in Political Science, “What Is Youth Political Participation? Literature Review on Youth Political Participation,” 2020. Available: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpos.2020.00001/full

[2] Sage Journals, “The Gap Between Youth and Politics: Youngsters Outside the Regular,” 2021. Available: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1103308820987996

Conclusion on Definition of Youth by Scholars

Definition youth by scholars is a complex task that has been tackled by scholars from various disciplines. The search for a comprehensive definition has led to the identification of several criteria that are used to define youth. These criteria include age, social roles, and cultural norms.

The United Nations defines youth as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 for statistical purposes, without prejudice to other definitions by member states. However, this definition has been criticized for being too narrow and not taking into account the cultural and social diversity of youth.

Researchers in developed countries define youth as a stage of life between childhood and adulthood, characterized by physical, psychological, and social changes. However, this definition has also been criticized for being too simplistic and not reflecting the complexity of youth experiences.

Despite the challenges of defining youth, scholars agree that youth is a critical period in the life course that shapes individuals’ trajectories and has significant implications for society. Therefore, it is essential to continue the dialogue on the definition of youth and to recognize the diversity of youth experiences across cultures and contexts.

Frequently Asked Questions on Definition of Youth by Scholars

What is the UN definition of youth?

The United Nations defines youth as individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. This definition is used by the UN for statistical purposes and in the development of policies and programs that target youth.

What is the definition of youth according to different authors?

Different authors have defined youth in various ways. For instance, Johanna Wyn, a sociologist, defines youth as a social category that is distinct from childhood and adulthood, marked by a period of transition from dependence to independence. Steve Pearson, on the other hand, defines youth as a period of life between childhood and adulthood, characterized by physical, psychological, and social changes.

What are the characteristics of youth?

Youth is a period of life marked by significant physical, psychological, and social changes. Some of the characteristics of youth include increased independence, heightened self-awareness, and a greater sense of identity.

What is the age range for youth around the world?

The age range for youth varies around the world. While the UN defines youth as individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, some countries have different age ranges for youth. For instance, in India, youth is defined as individuals between the ages of 15 and 29.

What is the defining concept of youth according to scholars?

The defining concept of youth according to scholars is the idea of transition. Youth is seen as a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, marked by physical, psychological, and social changes.

What is the UNESCO definition of youth?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines youth as individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. UNESCO also recognizes that youth is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, and emphasizes the importance of education and training for youth development.

 

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