Coming of Age in Samoa

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Margaret Mead’s book “Coming of Age in Samoa” is an anthropological study of a “primitive” group of people under completely different cultural conditions than people of western society, namely America. She chose to study a group of adolescents in the South Sea Island of Samoa, a place where one might study a people: “Whose society has never attained the complexity of our own.” Mead attempts to determine whether or not the experience of turbulence and difficulty during the time of puberty and adolescence was universal, based mostly on biological changes, or were those experiences mostly influenced by environment and culture.
It is no surprise that adolescence would be a turbulent time due to the very nature of the biological changes that occur in a young person’s body. Between hormonal and physical changes, cognitive development coupled with sexual maturation it’s no wonder some young people experience high levels of conflict and exhibit acts such as insurrection. Mead’s message regarding the state of adolescence is that although adolescence is an inevitable experience, those changes are more so a consequence of the environment and culture to which one belongs. Mead presents this view when speaking of a “primitive adolescent girl” “Her whole material environment was different…this routine of life which was so different from ours, so her social environment in its attitudes towards children, towards sex, towards personality, presented as strong a contrast to the social
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