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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200257 Find in a Library
Title: Deviance Over the Life Course: The Case of Homeless Substance Abusers
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse  Volume:38  Issue:3-6  Dated:February-May 2003  Pages:475-502
Author(s): Stephanie Hartwell Ph.D.
Date Published: February 2003
Page Count: 28
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study applied Hirschi's social bond theory in an examination of the plights of 31 male homeless substance users in New Haven, CT.
Abstract: Hirschi's (1969) social bond theory emphasizes the absence of social attachments among juvenile delinquents; however, the theory offers an untapped framework to examine the lives of homeless substance users because of the interrelatedness of the elements of social bond included in the theory. Elements of social bonding include attachment to families, commitment to social norms and institutions (school, employment), involvement in activities, and the belief that these attachments and commitments are important (Hirschi, 1969). Using Hirschi's theory of social control as a framework, but adapting it across the life course to emphasize institutional attachments and the notions of weakened and broken social bonds, this study examined the common social experiences of 31 homeless substance users whose status persisted over time. The men described non-normative attachments to families, friends, and institutions that have little commitment to conventional goals. Their involvement in unconventional activities perpetuated deviation and the adoption of a set of beliefs that were ultimately manifested in their current social conditions. Overall, the men remained deviant across the life course due to their early attachments and subsequent associations with the larger social structure in their immediate environments. None of the 31 men broke the cycle of homelessness and substance use before the end of the study period. Most adapted to their lives by being resilient within the parameters of their deviance. Removing their substance-use behaviors and habits from their lives will require changes in all major life areas and the building of a new set of social skills. 1 table and 34 references
Main Term(s): Drug abuse
Index Term(s): Connecticut; Deviance; Drug abuse causes; Homeless persons; Social conditions; Social control theory
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