Doing, being and becoming : young people's processes of subjectivation between categories of age
Appears in the following Collection
- Psykologisk institutt 
AbstractThis thesis explores and details the processes through which children constitute and are constituted as adolescents. The papers presented in the thesis examine how young people acquire a sense of themselves within categories of age and how such processes call attention to the body. In doing so, the thesis attends to the body in two ways; first, it illuminates the way young people conduct and deploy their bodies when constituting themselves within and against categories of age. Second, it explores how notions of the body that are embedded in discourses of gender which prevail in contexts such as schools affect how young people behave as well as how they are perceived by their surroundings.
The data on which the papers are based consist of qualitative interviews collected as part of a longitudinal study of the social transition between childhood and adolescence among 32 children in a multicultural neighbourhood in Oslo, Norway. All the participants were interviewed repeatedly, first through the course of two years (between the ages of twelve and fourteen), new interviews being conducted in their final year in secondary school (at the age of sixteen) and finally some in their second year of upper secondary (at the age of eighteen). The data on which the thesis is based consist of nearly 180 qualitative interviews; all conducted over a period of seven years. In particular, the papers address three overall research questions. The first question relates to how intersecting categories such as gender, age, ethnicity and sexuality, as embedded in discourses, influence possible ways of being and becoming as an adolescent boy or girl. The second question concerns how young people use and deploy their bodies when constituting themselves within discourses that address such categories of identity.
The third question has to do with developmental psychology and how feminist postvii structural theory and research provide analytical framework for understanding the processes through which young people become who they are. Drawing on perspectives from this theoretical field, the papers in this thesis offer a way of understanding the processes through which children and adolescents constitute themselves and are constituted as adolescents. One of the arguments pursued in the importance of elaborating new theoretical concepts and analytical tools to better account for the complexity in processes often referred to as development. The papers in the thesis outline a frame of knowledge that differs radically from the notions of development proposed in conventional psychology which assert that human development is manifested by the emergence of transformations, many of which are assumed to be caused by biological maturation. The onsets of such transformations are often assumed as occurring within time intervals referred to as categories of age. Thus, age is posited as the chronological marker of the intervals in which development, i.e., a particular transformation, is expected to occur. The result of representations like these in which biology and age intersect, is that adolescence is framed as merely a passage between childhood and adulthood.
All the papers in the thesis attend to age by focusing on the body; how children and adolescents perform, style and deploy their bodies and how notions of the body, as embedded in discourse, affect ways of being and becoming of age. In different ways, the papers illuminate how young people constitute and are constituted within categories of age through practices on and with the body. The argument pursued in the thesis is that to further knowledge of the processes through which children acquire a sense of themselves as adolescents, the body, both as notions embedded in discourse and as practice, needs to be the focus of inquiry.
List of papers.
Paper I: Hauge, M.-I. (2009). Bodily practices and discourses of hetero-femininity: girls’ constitution of subjectivities in their social transition between childhood and adolescence. Gender and Education, 21(3), 293 – 307.
Paper II: Hauge, M.-I. and Haavind, H. (forthcoming). Boys’ bodies and the constitution of adolescent masculinities. Sport, Education and Society.
Paper III: Hauge, M.-I. (2008). The transformation of self from ‘child’ to ‘adolescent’: young people’s processes of subjectivation between categories of age. Manuscript submitted for publication.