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Kilborne, B. (1994). Adolescence. An Anthropological Inquiry: By Alice Schlegel and Herbert Barry III. New York: The Free Press, 1991. 263 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:593-595.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:593-595

Adolescence. An Anthropological Inquiry: By Alice Schlegel and Herbert Barry III. New York: The Free Press, 1991. 263 pp.

Review by:
Benjamin Kilborne

In this book, Alice Schlegel and Herbert Barry attempt to write an objective, "scientific" study of adolescence, incorporating much recent material and coming at the subject from the vantage points of child development, role theory, and gender development.

The book begins with an overview of adolescence. However, what adolescence is experienced to be, and why the category was proposed in the first place, why it arose historically when and where it did, and how it came into use are questions left altogether to one side. It is assumed that "adolescence" is a scientific category, a thing, much like "sea otters," which have certain identifiable traits distinguishing them from other sea creatures.

Such an approach sets Schlegel and Barry at odds with Ariès, for instance, who concludes: "People had no idea of what we call adolescence, and the idea was a long time taking shape" (quoted on p. 2).

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