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Coming of Age in Samoa

(1928) A book written by Margaret Mead. Mead determined that the socialization of children in Samoa results in a generally happy adolescence and easy transition to sexual activity and adulthood. These findings challenged the widely held belief that biological changes occurring during adolescence were necessarily accompanied by social and psychological stress. Mead argued that adolescent stress is a cultural, not a biological, phenomenon. Coming of Age contributed to the popularization of anthropology and helped to establish the anthropology subfield of culture and personality. Her interpretation of Samoan society was later challenged by Derek Freeman, and a bitter controversy ensued.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.