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Cultural contexts and developmental processes in adolescent-parent relationships

Advances in Group Processes

ISBN: 978-0-76230-651-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-049-4

Publication date: 31 July 2000


Social psychologists interested in the study of group processes have largely ignored social interactions in the context of the family. In contrast, much of the research in developmental psychology has focused on parent-child interactions and how they facilitate children's and adolescents' social and emotional development and adjustment. This chapter focuses on one aspect of family interactions, parent-adolescent conflict, and describes the results of an ongoing program of research that investigated adolescents' and parents' interpretations of conflicts, or the meaning different family members ascribe to their disputes. Research employing middle-class European-American and African-American families and lower-class Chinese adolescents in Hong Kong is used to illustrate cultural differences and similarities in types of conflicts, conflict frequency and intensity, reasoning about conflicts, and conflict resolution. The proposition advanced here is that adolescent-parent conflict helps to transform and restructure family relationships and to facilitate adolescent development. These findings challenge researchers interested in group processes to develop models that describe how groups change and evolve in response to conflict.


Smetana, J.G. (2000), "Cultural contexts and developmental processes in adolescent-parent relationships", Advances in Group Processes (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 203-227.



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