The Riots of 1964 — Chapter 15

Research Director’s Report
Manning Van Nostrand, Director of Research

General Summation on “Random” Interview Data

There will be no need to provide a repetition of the summaries given at the end of each section of the analysis of the Interview Schedule. This summary will concentrate on the broad outline of the findings of this Interview Schedule.

Three sub-groups were delineated from the group as a whole: the arrested, the C.A.V.E. participates, and the “longer” or low relationship group. By and large, there was not a great deal of difference between the two groups, but the difference which were there could well be determinative of the patterns of behavior on the beach during the summer season. The arrested group presented the clearest picture of hostility and frustration both with the world and on the beach. The low relationship group are what might be called disconnected followe4rs. Whether or not this is the group on the beach that, apart from the arrested group, is hostile and negative, is difficult to say. However, lack of trusting relationships with others does seem to lead in the group of young people surveyed to exhibit a deep kind of insecurity which is masked by indifference. It is among those youngsters who participated in the C.A.V.E that we find the best possibility of leadership among the adolescent sub-culture. If we had had the time to do it, it would have been most helpful to separate out the C.A.V.E. participants the low relationship youngsters and the arrested youngsters to see if the remaining persons were significantly different from the group as a whole. This further refinement of the data would, it is suspected, provide us with a group of youngsters who have very healthy attitudes and high aspirations.

One of the consistent findings of these data are that there is some substance to the conflict between the generations. Although the Irritably-Deviancy Test indicates that there is a substantial agreement between adults and youngsters on the matters of law and order, the data from the interviews indicates that the average adolescent is troubled about his relationship with the world. These data indicate that the youth on Hampton beach are able to discriminate between the particular adults which they meet on Hampton Beach either in the form of merchants or police from the adults which form a significant part of their world. The adults on Hampton Beach become targets of hostility only when the general situation for the youngsters on the Beach is such that there does not seem to be any opportunity for free expression in a situation that has some limitations. The quarrel these adolescents have with the world does not seem to be a conflict over authority. Their conflict seems, rather, to be fit into this world. They perceive the world as making it difficult for them to fit in anywhere. It would seem that a report community which has so many adolescents coming to it faces a most delicate problem. Nevertheless, as we shall see in the final summary of the research report, the conflicts within the individual adolescent and within his adolescent sub-culture can be contained.

Research, such as has been attempted during the summer of 1965 on Hampton Beach, is aggravating in that it seems to raise more questions than it answers. There have been so many tantalizing leads developed in the “random” interview. WE have been operating in a transitional community, a community which is really operating only a few months of the year. Ties are loosely formed; informal sub-groupings take the place of social institutions; cliques substitute for clubs. What happens to morality? How are the decision-making processes made effective? What is the communications network among the adolescent? What makes him decide whether or not he is going to participate in something like C.A.V.E.? What happens in these large clusters of young people which, we can presume, contain the arrested, the “loner,” and the leader of the teen-age society? Why did these youngsters come to this community? We know why they give as the reason. But, we do not know why these particular young people come to this particular community. Does Hampton Beach symbolize something to the teen-ager? Is all of what we have been observing simply random behavior that distributes itself evenly across all the questions we might ask? It certainly does seem that we have a cross-section of many indices of behavior.

There is no doubt that we have at Hampton Beach an almost unparalleled opportunity to study the culture and society of contemporary American’s adolescent. It all seems to be here. In order to do the proper kind of research, perhaps we out to take some of the leads developed in the questionnaire-interview used this year and use it as a sort of key to providing a more differentiated interview schedule in which key items would be programmed into questions designed to get at more basic information relative to each of the sub-groups. We need to know more about each of the sub-groups mentioned in this report. WE need to know about the kind of informal society which is developed here and what tits structure is. We need to follow through on the various kinds of stresses and strains within the youngsters that have been traced out by interview schedule used here. Perhaps if we keyed in our certain criterion questions, using them as a base for alternate sets of questions, we might be able to paint a more accurate kind of picture. While the limits of time and budget are always of major importance, the function of research in developing genuine understanding of what it is we are dealing with is of immeasurable importance.