Are Adolescent Problems Caused by School or Society?

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Although psychologists often consider motivation problems as adolescent life-stage phenomena, sociologists often attribute these problems to schools. This article suggests a selection system model in which the college and work worlds offer youth different incentives which may cause the apparent "life-stage effects" or "school effects." We show that college-bound students have incentives for motivation, achievement, and discipline, whereas work-bound students lack such incentives. This model suggests that youths' behaviors may be explained by stratified incentives, it suggests new research approaches for studying the incentives in adolescents' social worlds, and it suggests policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-322
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
StatePublished - 1991


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