Sociology of youth is a subfield of sociology that seeks to examine the social behaviors of groups of youths. Some research in the field is conducted for purely academic purposes, while other research is applied to youth education and therapy. Youth is a very important time for social development as youths seek greater independence from their parents and start to form social groups with their peers. Subcultures based on factors such as race, interests, and socioeconomic status are of particular importance in the sociology of youth, as they define many personal and social behaviors.
Understanding the social behaviors of youth is the broad theoretical goal of the sociology of youth. A wide range of factors affect youth social behaviors, including socioeconomic background, family life, peer groups, age, and education. Sociological studies generally involve comparisons of the social behaviors of people with different backgrounds and traits. Such studies must control for as many variables as possible in order to determine anything about specific behaviors with any degree of accuracy.
The practical application of sociology of youth research involves youth education and therapy. Educational institutions are highly relevant to sociology of youth as many youth social groups are composed of peers who meet and spend time together at school. Understanding the social structures of educational institutions can provide insight into how to better educate youths.
For many people, youth is a very tumultuous time of life. Sometimes, this is because of psychological issues that have little or nothing to do with the social conditions of one's life. In many cases, though, youth problems are related to issues with family or friends. Some such problems can be addressed through professional therapy or through intervention by parents or school youth advisers. Greater understanding of the sociology of youth can better prepare counselors, parents, and therapists to handle youth social issues.
Youth subcultures are an important focus in research of the sociology of youth, as such subcultures greatly influence youth behavior. Many youth social groups are organized around subcultures based on personality, background, race, interests, and other factors. Many subcultures, such a goth, emo, and rave, are based largely, though not entirely, on musical preferences. Subcultures usually influence the preferences, morality, fashion, and recreational behaviors of youths. The high level of behavioral influence exerted by subcultures makes them a highly important focus in both the theoretical and practical areas of the field of sociology of youth.