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Is social support modeled to readers in YA Lit?

March 18, 2011

I read an article on the power of social support and it made me wonder:

  • are young adults in YA Lit encouraged to influence their social environment?
  • Is this different across cultures?
  • do YA novels model the accessing of social support?

There are so many books about child spies or teenage wizards, werewolves, and vampires, for example, but what do these books tell us about how our culture sees self-help/social support? How do Meg Rosoff’s Just in Case or Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime deal with this? At the moment, I am simply wondering.

You may wonder too, so consider this:

“Power and love are the two great themes of myth and story.  …Desires for power and love provide gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, kings and queens, curious little boys and brave little girls alike with energy, direction, and purpose.  They move the plot forward; they make the action meaningful.”[1]

“Negative events such as failing an exam or finding out about a high cholesterol level can lead people to take many different courses of action.  Individuals may change their study or eating habits, try to convince themselves that the problem is not very grave, or talk to close others to solicit their help and sympathy.  The course of action people take and how effectively those actions resolve the stressor obviously depend on the exact nature of the problem and the social circumstances.  However, among many different strategies, social support is one of the most effective coping strategies by which a person can alleviate the negative impact of stress.  Consequently, soliciting social support from close others is encouraged and generally brings about positive coping outcomes.”[2] (my emphasis)


[1] 68 Dan McAdams (1993) The stories we live by; personal myths and the making of the self.  The Guilford Press; New York and London.

[2] p1595 Kim, H., Sherman, D., Ko, D. & Taylor, S. (2006) Pursuit of Comfort and Pursuit of harmony: culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 32(12); pp1595-1607

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