Sociology 117

University of California, Santa Cruz

Winter 2006



Growing up in an “all minority” state:



California, seventh among the world’s nation-states in wealth, is the first and only major Western society to have no majority race, ethnicity, or religion.


More than that, California (alone among its industrial peers) is home to large populations with origins in all four continents.  Its youth are at the vortex of wrenching global change.


California’s transition to a world state is harbinger for what will transpire in other Western societies


So far, we are blowing it.



Three decades of evolution... California’s teenage population, age 10-19


Race                       Pop 1970    Percent 1970      |               Pop 2006     Percent 2006

White                     2,798,711                73.4%     |               1,819,000                32.3%

Latino/a                    552,750                14.6%     |               2,563,800                45.5%

Black                         300,129                  7.9%     |                  446,200                  7.9%

Asian/PI                125,195                    3.3%     |                  581,200                10.3%

Native                         16,335                  0.4%     |                    54,800                  1.0%

Other/mixed                           na                            |                  163,500                  2.9%

TOTAL                  3,793,120                                |               5,628,500


Source: California Department of Finance, Demographic Research Unit




Course information


Syllabus (2006)

Reader online (updated for 2006):   

Chapter 1 – Growing Up in a State of Extremes

Chapter 2 – A Demography Defined by Its “Crises”

Chapter 3 – A Demography Defined by Its “Crises”


Youth and Social Justice paper—America is world’s most anti-youth society

Information on final paper (updated for 2006)


McHenry Library resources on youth, useful for paper references, with links to information sources



Commentary on popular commentary on adolescents: I’ve spent nearly a year searching for texts for this course. After looking through dozens of popular and academic volumes focused on “youth” or “adolescents,” I can say with confidence that the vast majority of today’s books on teenagers are absolutely abysmal, products that combine rampant adult bigotry with rotten scholarship, recycling the same secondhand horror-statistics copied from the back of some 1990 save-our-children pamphlet. The formulaic rallying cry of today’s troubled, Baby-Boomer expert, repeated endlessly: Adults-parents-shrinks must unite in rescuing-reviving-saving today’s apocalyptically at-risk-imperiled-brat from himself-herself-peers-culture before they destroy our healthy-sacred-procultural grownup “family values.” Capsule reviews of the Ephebiphobic’s (youth-hater’s) Library will follow for my personal ventilation and hopefully your amusement. If you agree/disagree, send me an e-mail and I’ll post.


Books bought by millions, but NOT for this class:


Kay Hymowitz, Ready or Not: Why Treating Children as Small Adults Endangers Their Future--And Ours (1999). Rating: RIGHTIST IMMATURITY. Hymowitz, researcher for the conservative Manhattan Institute (hero: Republican family-values guru, serial adulterer, and ”sham marriage” practitioner Rudolph Giuliani), rages against teenagers as “ungainly children” and “Darwinian” savages obsessed only with violence and sex. For laughs only. Hymowitz’s superior hostility is a fraud; she wilts when challenged. I’ve got the emails to prove it.


Meredith Maran, Dirty: A Search for Answers Inside the Teenage Drug Epidemic (2003). RATING: WHAT IS SHE? ON DOPE?? Rotten Baby-Boomer mom Maran falls over herself venting thinly-veiled rage at youth in general, and her own in particular, in phony tones of “concern.” Particularly hilarious is Maran’s auto-adoring paean that her Sixties generation, the most criminal, drug-abusing claque of all time, was getting high “for the Revolution.” Boomer liberals salivate en masse over this ridiculous junk that contains not a shred of reality, other than to inadvertently reveal one reason some kids today get high:  they suffer insufferably self-righteous tell-all parents like Maran.


Carnegie Corporation: Great Transitions (1995). Rating: INSTITUTIONAL TRAVESTY. The most influential collection of scummy, liberal teen-program-industry lies and pious “family values” moral platitudes of the decade. Carnegie recasts the healthiest, safest generation of 10-14 year-olds in American history as terrifyingly imperiled by youth culture and TV. Real dangers such as poverty, violent child abuses, and parental drug and alcohol addiction win less than one page in this 135-page pacifier for complacent politicians that sets back reasoned youth policy at least a century. Carnegie’s Council, a mismash of politicians, academics, and interest groups, should be thoroughly ashamed.


David Elkind: All Grown Up and No Place to Go (1999). Rating: DEVELOPMENTALLY INCOMPETENT. The pop-psychologist who’s done the most damage to reasoned thinking about adolescence is Parents’ magazine columnist Elkind. Oblivious to every major social trend for 30 years, Elkind’s books soothe that the entire problem is just natural teenage incompetence from which we too-trusting, hard-working modern adults must rally together to save the kiddies. As one moronic Elkind article is titled, “Waaahh!”


Dave Grossman: Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie, and Video Game Violence (2000). Rating: VIRTUALLY LUDICROUS. Army psychologist Grossman is the guy who sold breathless reporters and politicians on the patently crazed notion that kids wiggling a video game joystick train themselves to outgun FBI sharpshooters. His big evidence of pop-culture damage is that felony assault reports rose steadily from 1960 to 1992 commensurate with the growth in TV sales, a bad enough correlation-equals-causation fallacy even before considering the fact he doesn’t mention:  assault and other violent felonies PLUMMETED (especially among youth) from 1992 through 2000 commensurate with massive growth in violent video games, rap music sales, R-rated movies, explicit cable channels, and Internet images he deplores! His book mangles statistics and butchers logic. Comic relief, except that Congress adores him.


William Pollack, Mary Bray Pipher: Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood (1999). Rating: PSYCHOLOGICALLY DAMAGED. Troubled boyologist Pollack and girl-saver Pipher (Reviving Ophelia) have built a career of basic Psych 1 professional ethics violations: generalizing to the entire adolescent population the pathologies they see (or hallucinate) in their troubled clients. Both peddle Armageddon fears about today’s youth through unchecked bullet-stats and selected client quotes that presume to let “real” boys and girls (that they chose) “speak.” This roadshow works for adolescent-psych profiteers (a multi-billion dollar racket), but they’d never get away with similarly pathologizing a group that could fight back. Like… middle-agers, for instance, who have committed dozens of mass shootings of late and display exploding rates of drug abuse, crime, and imprisonment that affects their kids worse than anything Pollack and Pipher explore.


James Garbarino: Parents Under Siege (2000), and, Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them (1998). Rating: OPPORTUNISTIC SELLOUT. Cornell psychologist Garbarino admits from years of youth advocacy that he knows damn well why a few boys kill:  poverty, household abuses, urban unemployment.  Bummer... no money in that in the cold 1990s. Better to jump on the cheap-popularity bandwagon demonizing a few upscale school shooters as poster boys of modern youth, position yourself firmly on the side of worried-but-blameless rich parents, and win media adulation berating “dark Internet images” as the cause of modern kid evils. Success!


Patricia Hersch: A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heartland of American Adolescence. Rating: TEENAGE WASTELAND WANNABE.  Hersch’s self-frightened treatise on a few suburban D.C. teenagers exploits all the stupid statistics and standard fears of youth while letting her own grownup generation off the hook. Hersch’s heart is in the right place, but she never overcame her fatal Baby-Boom hypocrisies (as opposed to Boomer misfits Donna Gaines, Teenage Wasteland , and Herb Childress, Landscapes of Betrayal, Landscapes of Joy, whose ethnographies truly get it).


Jeane Kilbourne: Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel. Rating: PABLUM FOR LIBERALS. Leftist Kilbourne invokes righteous grownup superiority to save our unheard-of, rotten, parent-defying children from the corruptions of corporate advertising and consumerism. Problem is, teenagers, boys and girls, are not in crisis. By a wide variety of indexes, young people are acting healthier than any generation in decades--but, they’re putting up with middle-aged parents who suffer exploding drug abuse, disarray, divorce, criminal arrest, and imprisonment. Too much for Kilbourne and fellow leftist culture critics to deal with. Proof that even clever “culture war” analysis is woefully limited in explaining real social trends. So, it resorts to just making things up.


Neil Howe & William Strauss: Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. Rating: UNWORTHY DISAPPOINTMENT.  Howe/Strauss pioneered revolutionary generational analysis that predicted today’s kids would be much better than expected. While much of Millennials affirms that healthy point and makes it a far better work than 99% of books on youth today, the authors unfortunately indulge Boomer-biased, research-poor claims that adult crackdowns are the reason today’s kids are good. I assigned this book last term, but it has too many flaws to reassign. Howe and Strauss: dump that moralistic traditionalism and write the great book on new-millennium youth your true generational theories reveal.


There’s more, and worse.