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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75261 Find in a Library
Title: Adolescent Subcultures of Violence
Journal: Sociological Quarterly  Volume:21  Issue:4  Dated:(Autumn 1980)  Pages:545-561
Author(s): R L Austin
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 17
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study of subcultural explanations of adolescent violence compares two competing theories, the subculture of violence thesis and Matza's theory of 'drift,' and examines additional evidence.
Abstract: Both theories assume that adolescent violence is likely to occur in a group context; the groups are subcultures developed around social variations in such areas as age, class and sex. A relationship between machismo values and violence is also proposed by both theories. However, Wolfgang's and Ferracuti's claim of higher rates of violence for the lower class is questioned by Matza, who expects that better data would reveal more middle and upper class delinquency. Wolfgang and Ferracuti also envision greater differences than does Matza between culture and subculture. In addition, Matza claims that only a very small proportion of subcultural delinquents are committed to their misdeeds. He argues that subcultural norms do not make combat an expected or required response, as Wolfgang and Ferracuti contend, but instead permit neutralization of conventional norms under appropriate conditions. To test the validity of the theories 73.5 percent on an original sample of 5,545 junior and high school students in western Contra Costa County, Calif. were tested by means of a questionnaire. The procedure involved stratification by sex, race, school and grade, followed by disproportionate random sampling. The findings showed that, as both theories contend, violence is more likely among adolescent members of deviant subcultures and among adolescent members of deviant subcultures and among adolescents with machismo or adult values than among other adolescents. Contrary to both theories, adolescent violence may result more from amorality than from a contracultural morality or neutralization of conventional beliefs. Still, violence is more likely among boys holding unconventional beliefs than among other boys. Also, poor relationships with parents or teachers are more important than class in insulating against conventional values. Statistical data and 26 references are included.
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Aggression; Juvenile delinquency factors; Subculture theory; Violence
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