issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

groups.psychology.org.au

issue 2 08 - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Psychological Sense of Community as a Framework to Explore Adolescence andNeighbourhoodsLyn O’GradyAdrian FisherVictoria UniversityAdolescence is considered a time of change, and, to some extent, upheaval.Psychological Sense of Community has been utilised as a framework for understandingadolescents’ experiences in their neighbourhoods. The present study explored theexperiences of 10 adolescents from two urban schools in eastern Australia, a specialistsetting for students with a mild intellectual disability, and a mainstream school. Using amodified version of Photovoice, participants were actively engaged in takingphotographs about their day-to-day lives in their neighbourhoods. The photographswere supplemented by individual semi-structured interviews and small groupdiscussions. The role of neighbourhood, including factors the participants consideredimportant in their neighbourhoods, as well as other aspects of their lives were discussedwith similarities found between the two groups. Both groups of participants wereinvolved in community activities although participants with a disability required morefamily support in accessing activities. The dynamic nature of neighbourhoods andbroader concepts of communities, including the role of technology, were also exploredduring the research project.44Adolescence is defined as the periodbetween the onset of puberty and earlyadulthood. During this time, individuals arefaced with a myriad of rapid and complexchanges – physical, cognitive, social andemotional – which may lead to a range ofexperiences with some unprecedentedchallenges. An increased discrepancy betweensexual and psychosocial maturity has arisendue to earlier pubertal changes and social andeconomic factors resulting in increaseddependency on parents during early adulthood(Kleinert, 2007; Patton & Viner, 2007).Although adolescence has traditionally beencharacterised as a period within one’s lifecycle when storm and stress is more likely tooccur than at any other life stage (Arnett,1999), an exploration of contemporarythoughts on adolescence within western culturesuggests that this is not always the case.Recent research has recognised theimportance of protective factors and has begunto explore the promotion of resilience inadolescents (e.g., Resnick, 2005; Vassallo,Smart, Sanson, & Dussuyer, 2004). Australianresearchers have clearly defined the criticalroles that families, schools and communitiesplay in supporting adolescents in negotiatingthe challenges that arise during this life stage(Fuller, McGraw, & Goodyear, 2002). Thiscontrasts with previous research which tendedto focus on the individualistic, and oftennegative, aspects of adolescent development,such as risk taking behaviours and antisocialbehaviours (Maggs, Frome, Eccles, & Barber,1997; Moore & Parsons, 2000).Adolescents are not, however, ahomogeneous group, although much previousresearch has only considered the experiences ofthose adolescents attending mainstream schools.Historically, people with intellectual disabilitieshave tended to be excluded from decisionmaking, community involvement and researchprojects, despite integration having beenadvocated for some time (Wituk, Pearson,Bomhoff, Hinde, & Meissen, 2006). Theexperiences of adolescents with intellectualdisabilities have only recently been explored(Bramston, Bruggerman, & Pretty, 2002; Pretty,Rapley, & Bramston, 2002). This researchconsidered how community connectedness isrelated to the perception of quality of life inThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 20 No 2 December 2008

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines