Sociology of Youth
The Structural Arrangements
The class view using the Social-Psychological perspective precipitates a point-of-view in the context of society as the dictator to the actor, the environment perpetuating the role that young individuals play in contemporary society. The social interaction is engaged through the environmental variables that lead to the psychological parameters to which the youth operate within. This approach is ostensibly akin to Ethnomethodology that views humans as a rule ridden species predicated on acting within a given societal or moral framework.
The identity formation of bonded child laborers in India is an example of youth that have no control over their environment and to where their environment or social paradigm shapes their individual thought process. These youth become a function of their environment. Essentially, a product of their environment that is based on exploitation and abuse of the children of the society. The structural arrangements for these youth are fragmented as there is no formal labor laws governing the work, the family life is fractured due to poverty as the children are considered economic commodities rather than children that need to be raised as industrious adults, and school becomes a looming priority as the child attempts to obtain schooling in light of the bonded labor conditions.
According to Kovasevic (2007), "Four years ago, Yeramma was a young student at one of India's government schools. When her sister became ill and hospital fees quickly surpassed the family's earnings, she was bonded to a silk manufacturer for 1,700 rupees (U.S.$35). At merely seven years of age, Yeramma's youth was forfeited to India's expansive silk industry. She will likely spend the rest of her lifetime paying off $35 in debt." (Kovasevic, pg. 26, Child Slavery, 2007)
The social conditions gave rise to an economic enslavement, a sort of indentured servitude where the cost of indebtedness creates an economic slave of the labor unit. The individual will spend a lifetime working off a debt that may seek to increase at any moment during the indentured servitude period. The cultural ideology of these children is compromised in favor of profiting from their labor and innocence.
According to Kovasevic (2007), "In the early hours of the morning, long before dawn has risen, eleven-year-old Yeramma quietly wakes amidst the heavy machinery of the silk factory. For the next twelve hours, she will toil in silence with two or three other children in the Indian state of Karnataka, winding silk with one hour's pause for rest. The small workers prepare meals from rice provided by the factory owner, knowing that it will be deducted from their wages. Bent over her machine, Yeramma works with the utmost precision afforded by her small but agile hands; a mistake, as minor as a cut in the thread, will result in a beating. Vigilance, she hopes, will keep a fresh scar from her back." (Kovasevic, pg. 26, Child Slavery, 2007)
The perspective of the Conflict Theorist is appropriate given the case of Yeramma. The oppression of one group of individuals subject to the economic benefit of the oppressor as the reason for the oppression regarding the conflict theorist. Without the need for economic exploitation, or physical/sexual exploitation, the conflict theorist has no place in the context of sociology. Without the need for conflict, the need to appropriate resources for economic gain, there is no conflict theory. However, the case of Yeramma is evidence of conflict theory. The economic exploitation via the beatings into submission of these children is indicative of the conflict theorist in an approach that is decidedly Marxist yet not Marxist, such that the capitalist is employing socialism as a means of control.
According to Kovasevic (2007), "As defined in a Human Rights Watch report, a bonded child is "a child working in conditions of servitude to pay off a debt." In many instances, the loan is incurred by destitute parents in order to pay for the most basic necessities. This prevents the child from seeking other employment,...
The child becomes a commodity exchanged between parents and employer, much like an expendable good. Unscrupulous creditors find it increasingly simple to retain laborers long after the real value of labor exceeds the initial amount of loan, and exploit uncertainty to their advantage in keeping wages minimal or nonexistent. Unfortunately, a tremendous percentage of bonded labor goes unnoticed, especially among girls who work from home." (Kovasevic, 27, Child Slavery, 2007)
The rate of social change is critical to addressing the issue of progressive change to the condition of structural arrangement in the role expectations of Indian youth. The degree of conflicting norms is severe as the cultural mores of society are anti-youth in the sense of allowing the exploitation of the young. But this is not the truth. Indeed the young are exploited however, it is exclusively the poor that are exploited. This is an economic issue affecting the youth of India as the economic poverty these families face subject the children to conditions of abuse.
The intergenerational conflict is an issue of leaving the farm, pursuing independent routes, and attempting to remove oneself from the strapping economic hardship. The elder generation also holds the belief that youth is inferior and subject to the control of the elder society. The tribulation of youth can be described by Erikson (1968), "As technological advances put more and more time between early school life and the young person's final access to specialized work, the stage of adolescing becomes an even more marked and conscious period and, as it has always been in some cultures in some periods, almost a way of life between childhood and adulthood." (Erikson, pg. 128, Adolescence and the Life Cycle Stage, 1968)
The dichotomy of childhood and adulthood is relevant in all societies and has a history within all walks of life. As stated by Erikson, the stage of adolescing for youth is a combative time with adults in the face of obtaining adulthood. There seems to be a resistance in the world social structure that seeks to limit the development of youth into higher social orders that tend to be dominated by adult males. Adult females historically do not hold the power and certainly are not at the forefront of the bonded labor exploitation market in India. This from the evidence presented is a male social order that dominates and exploits the youth girl and boy.
According to Milner (2004), "Why are teenagers frequently mean and petty toward one another? It is because status is relatively inexpansible. If everyone receives A's or has a cell phone, these have little value as status symbols. Because status is relatively inexpansible, if someone moves up, someone else will have to move down. But the reverse is also true; you can move up or stay on top by putting others down. Hence when adolescents are placed in a situation where they have little real economic or political power, and where they can only divide up an inexpansible resource like status, it is not surprising that "put-downs" and "small cruelties" are all too common." (Milner, 2004)
The role of teenagers in society is relatively similar across all societies. Teenagers are in competition with one another if not for scarce resources, for the attention of adults and for the attention of mating partners. Indian youth often do not have each other to contend with however, as the adult population forces control over the activities and economic resources of the youth. These Indian youth do not grow up as a 'normal' child and therefore do not develop the identity of an individual youth. Their identity is taken and compromised in exchange for compliance to economic exploitation.
In comparison to Amish society, according to Hostetler (1980), "Folk societies are uncomfortable with the idea of change. Young people do what the old people did when they were young. Members communicate intimately with one another, not only by word of mouth but also through custom and symbols that reflect a strong sense of belonging to one another. A folk society is Gemeinschaft-like: there is a strong sense of "we-ness." Leadership is personal rather than institutionalized. There are no gross economic inequalities." (Hostetler, pg. 9, Amish Society, 1980)
The Amish would be viewed by the ethnomethodologist as a rule ridden society that has not changed to adapt to a dynamic world. At the same time, the ethnomethodologist would not declare the Amish to be an inferior or deficient society based on their indifference to technological development. The society has shown a cultural development that has subsequently led to an isolation subject to controlling the thought process of the youth to conform to the stereotypes of the outside world that the adults have forged through indoctrination of their own bylaws, societal rituals, and religious services and teachings. These inherently biased societal and cultural rituals have prevented the youth from obtaining their own viewpoint of the world and has reduced one to conformity.
According to Sevcik (2003), "This centuries-old tradition may have…
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