Portland State University
Date of Publication
Master of Social Work (MSW)
High school students -- Attitudes, Alienation (Social psychology)
1 online resource (60 pages)
In August, 1968, after a series of confrontations in the city parks between young dissidents and the police, the Mayor of Portland called upon the Metropolitan Youth Commission to form a special study committee to explore the areas of conflict and to recommend ways in which municipal government might constructively respond to the young people in the community. The independent research project on the alienation of youth, the results of which are reported here, was an outgrowth of the interest generated by the request from the Office of the Mayor. Under the auspices of the Metropolitan Youth Commission (MYC), a special office within the executive branch of city government concerned with the needs of youth, a questionnaire was constructed measuring both the attitudes of young people toward established social institutions and measuring the degree of personal alienation of the respondent. A research consultant from the Department of Psychiatry of University of Oregon Medical School, Dr. John Marks, directed the development of the questionnaire. The items measuring personal alienation have been drawn from the “alienation cluster” on a scale constructed and refined by Chain and Associates in their research on juvenile heroin .research in New York City. In addition, items were included which would provide substantial information on personal background of the individual, e.g. family cohesiveness, social class, delinquent history, and drug use. In spring, 1969, data was collected in four high schools in the metropolitan area (pop. 380,000). The student members of the MYC arranged for students in each school to distribute the questionnaires in classrooms and to interpret the nature and purpose of the research project to those in the sample populations. Student rather than teacher-administration of the questionnaire was considered an important factor in assuring those participating of the confidentiality of individual responses. However, since the students were free to select the specific classes to be sampled, the population was not carefully randomized. The questionnaire was also completed by a small number of persons who were contacted at the Charix Coffee House, a popular meeting place for young people identified with the city’s hippie community. The Charix sample permits a comparison of the attitudes of those still attending school with a slightly older group of peers who have "dropped out" of the mainstream of community life. In the fall of 1969, when the present writers became involved in the project, the research sample was extended to include a fifth public high school and a special ungraded secondary school, Vocational Village, whose enrollment includes high school drop-outs and youth referred by school or juvenile court officials. The respondents from the fifth high school were a random sample of the total school population which, in turn, is a cross-section of the middle and lower income groups in this community. The composition of this school and unique features of its program will be more fully described in a later section of this paper. The sample drawn from Vocational Village is also considered unbiased because the questionnaire was administered in English classes, a required subject for all enrollees. The data collected during the two time periods, spring 1969 and fall 1969, has been analyzed separately. Since the four schools of the original sample differ in terms of the ethnic and socio-economic status of their enrollments, a comparison of responses by schools to ascertain relationships between social status and alienation has been a major focus of the data analysis. Factual information about the socio-economic characteristics of the individual schools has been drawn tram city census reports and research conducted by Portland's School District #1.
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McGonigle, Connie and Bakke, James F., "Attitudes of youth toward social institutions; a comparative study" (1970). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 732.