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The cast of Boy Meets World (1993-2000), an example of a peer social world.

Peer Social Worlds in Young Adult Literature

The peer social world is the most preferred social world of young adults. Peer social worlds can contain friends and enemies; different stereotyped groups like jocks, nerds, or theater kids; siblings and cousins; and  individuals of different ages. Peer social worlds can be present at any time in an individual’s life, though for this website we will be focusing on the peer social worlds of young adults. Peer social world interaction usually takes place at school, work, or during free time. This means that the peer social world has the potential to overlap into other social worlds like the family social world, the school social world, or the work social world. The peer social world can also be influenced by cultural and religious social worlds.

Issues in Peer Social Worlds

Peer social worlds have many issues and concerns, especially in transitional periods in life. Some issues that can affect young adults in peer social worlds include:

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Harry, Ron and Hermione were able to maintain their friendship throughout the series.
  • Popularity – “That’s why people don’t ever think to blame the Socs and are always ready to jump on us. We look hoody and they look decent. It could be just the other way around – half of the hoods I know are pretty decent guys underneath all that grease, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of Socs are just cold-blooded mean – but people usually go by looks.”   – The Outsiders
  • Romantic Relationships – “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” – The Fault in Our Stars
  • Competition and Achievements – “I realized then that I didn’t understand anything. I read all the books I could.”   – Persepolis
  • Domestic and Sexual Abuse or Assault – “IT happened. There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding.” – Speak
  • Drug or Alcohol Addiction and Abuse“But I did not kill my daddy. He drank his own self to death the year after the County moved me out. I heard how they found him shut up in the house dead and everything.” – Ellen Foster
  • Gaining, Maintaining, and Letting Go of Friendships – “I need a new friend. I need a friend, period. Not a true friend, nothing close or share clothes or sleepover giggle giggle yak yak. Just a pseudo-friend, disposable friend. Friend as accessory. Just so I don’t feel or look so stupid.” – Speak
  • Bullying and Gossip – “Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling somebody the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful, and it was one of those titles that just fed off the inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point.”   – The DUFF
  • Beauty or Attraction – “And sometimes’ she added, in slightly hushed tones, like she was letting me in on a secret, ‘if you don’t feel great on the inside, just look great on the outside, and after a while you won’t be able to tell the difference.” – Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
  • Sexual Preference or Identity – “I didn’t come out of the closet, I fell out, on my face. But I’m out and whatever else happens, I don’t have to worry about it anymore.” – Pretty Little Liars Series
  • Death or Illness – “That’s part of what I like about the book in some ways. It portrays death truthfully. You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence.” – The Fault in Our Stars   
  • Crime and/or Jail Sentences – “My job is to make sure the law works for you as well as against you, and to make you a human being in the eyes of the jury.”  – Monster
  • Peer Pressure – “What did I do? I walked into a drugstore to look for some mints, and then I walked out. What was wrong with that? I didn’t kill Mr. Nesbitt.”  – Monster

Hallmarks of Peer Social Worlds

Peer social worlds generally splinter into smaller, more easily categorized friend groups that are hallmarked by outward expressions of group culture. Some of these hallmarks include:

  • Clothing, Accessories, Hairstyles & Makeup

    crimped
    Crimped hair was a peer group fashion trend in the 90s.
  • Taste in Music, Movies, TV Shows & Books
  • Slang
  • Favorite Foods
  • Tattoos
  • Cars, Bikes, or Other Modes of Transportation
  • Grades
  • Sports Played or Favorite Sports
  • Social Media
  • Relationship Status
  • Employment
  • Socioeconomic Status of Self or Family
  • Animals or Pets
  • Art

While these hallmarks are representative of friend groups in young adult peer social worlds, they can transcend into childhood or adult peer social worlds.

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