The Nature of Adolescence: 4th Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Nature of Adolescence

4th Edition

By John C. Coleman


276 pages | 37 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2010-11-25
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The fourth edition of this successful textbook provides an up-to-date introduction to all of the key features of adolescent development. While drawing on the North American literature on adolescence, it highlights European perspectives and also provides unique coverage of the topic by summarising and reviewing what is known about adolescence from a British viewpoint.

Comprehensively updated and rewritten, this edition includes material on new topics such as:

  • The development of the adolescent brain
  • Sleep patterns in adolescence
  • Parenting programmes for parents of teenagers
  • Health, including sport and exercise, nutrition and obesity, and mental health
  • Education and schooling
  • Young people’s use of digital technologies
  • New approaches to resilience and coping.

The book places a particular emphasis on a positive view of adolescence, and the author develops a new theoretical perspective which looks at how young people themselves construct and shape their own developmental pathways. Interview material taken from discussions with adolescents is included throughout the book, and there are sample essay questions and PowerPoint lecture slides available online.

This is an essential text for anyone studying human development at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as on postgraduate courses for professionals including teachers, social workers, health workers, counsellors, and youth workers.


"John Coleman weaves together a range of perspectives on adolescence in a highly readable text. This is a work of wisdom and scholarship cleverly combined with a great deal of useful and practical information. This is no mean feat — making such complex ideas (merging anthropology, criminology, neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis and (a little bit of) sociology) accessible and understandable whilst not losing sight of the practice implications of the material is to be commended. All these make it essential reading for all those social workers working with adolescents." - Dr Ian Paylor, Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Science, Lancaster University, UK, in The British Journal of Social Work

"This book is unique in bringing together perspectives on adolescence from psychology, psychoanalysis, anthropology, neuroscience and criminology. John Coleman's particular talent is not only to make these complex ideas accessible to students and researchers, he also draws out their implications for those who work professionally with adolescents. As such, The Nature of Adolescence is essential reading for all those who wish to understand, and work more effectively with, young people." - John Pitts, Vauxhall Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire, UK

"In a society more troubled than ever by the problems of adolescence, this is a welcome and balanced overview, based entirely on scientific evidence. Enjoyable and authoritative reading for all who work with young people." - Lord Richard Layard, Well-being Programme, LSE Centre for Economic Performance, UK

"In this 4th edition of The Nature of Adolescence, John Coleman has woven together wisdom and scholarship to create a highly readable text. Topics such as the family and resilience are discussed with an informed intelligence which makes this book essential reading for anyone working with adolescents." - Professor Anne Edwards, Director, Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK

"Adolescence is indeed both a challenge and a delight, and John Coleman’s balanced, robust and fair approach to the topic is such a relief from negative media portrayals and thoughtless doom and gloom. This readable book provides a great deal of useful and practical information for anyone interested in the topic, and helps us to understand this important life stage." - Ann Hagell, Programme Head, Changing Adolescence Programme, The Nuffield Foundation London, UK and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Adolescence

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Physical Development. 3. Thinking and Reasoning. 4. The Self and Identity. 5. The Family. 6. Health. 7. Sexual Development. 8. Adolescence and Education. 9. Friends and the Peer Group. 10. Anti-Social Behaviour. 11. Risk, Resilience and Coping in Adolescence.

About the Author

John C. Coleman is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Education at Oxford University. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire. He was the Editor of the Journal of Adolescence for 14 years , and is an internationally recognised expert in the field of adolescence. He was awarded an OBE for services to youth in 2001.

About the Series

Adolescence and Society

In the 20 years since it began, this series has published some of the key texts in the field of adolescent studies. The series has covered a very wide range of subjects, almost all of them being of central concern to students, researchers and practitioners. A mark of its success is that a number of books have gone to second and third editions, illustrating its popularity and reputation.

The primary aim of the series is to make accessible to the widest possible readership important and topical evidence relating to adolescent development. Much of this material is published in relatively inaccessible professional journals, and the objective of the books has been to summarise, review and place in context current work in the field, so as to interest and engage both an undergraduate and a professional audience.

The intention of the authors is to raise the profile of adolescent studies among professionals and in institutions of higher education. By publishing relatively short, readable books on topics of current interest to do with youth and society, the series makes people more aware of the relevance of the subject of adolescence to a wide range of social concerns.

The books do not put forward any one theoretical viewpoint. The authors outline the most prominent theories in the field and include a balanced and critical assessment of each of these. Whilst some of the books may have a clinical or applied slant, the majority concentrate on normal development.

The readership rests primarily in two major areas: the undergraduate market, particularly in the fields of psychology, sociology and education; and the professional training market, with particular emphasis on social work, clinical and educational psychology, counselling, youth work, nursing and teacher training.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Adolescent

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