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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98039 Find in a Library
Title: Paradigmatic Crisis in Delinquency Theory
Journal: Crime and Social Justice  Issue:18  Dated:(Winter 1982)  Pages:70-78
Author(s): H Schwendinger; J Schwendinger
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 9
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An analysis of theory and empirical results regarding the relationship between social class and delinquency criticizes existing theory and presents an analysis of adolescent group formation that accounts for delinquency among youths of various social classes.
Abstract: Existing theories tend to focus on the known correlation between delinquency and adverse economic conditions. However, they do not account for delinquency among middle-class youths. The social control and strain theories are both limited. A more useful approach is the instrumental theory developed on the basis of the authors' 4 years of participant observation of delinquent groups. During 4 subsequent years, data were gathered on adolescent social types, linguistic behavior, network relations, and delinquent conduct. This theory describes the wide varieties of ways in which youths form the relationships and groups around which their activities center. Stratified domains, or stadoms, of adolescent groups are formed with distinct styles of dress, grooming, and linguistic behavior. These groups start to emerge during the later elementary school years. From highest to lowest socioeconomic status, these groups may range from socialite to street corner formations, with the highest rate of delinquency among street corner formations. Adolescents may also belong to nonstradom formations, including intellectuals, hobby groups, scouts, and hobby groups. These nonstradom formations represent networks that are directly controlled by adults and tend not to be associated with delinquency. In contrast, the properties of stadom formations produce various modes of delinquency: generalized delinquency starting early in adolescence, ethnocentric delinquency emerging around the end of junior high school, and informal economic delinquency that centers around illegal market activities. These modalities can exist simultaneously. The number of youth in a community and the extensiveness of the stradom formations affect participation in modes of delinquency. The delinquency research that has failed to control for types of adolescent stradom formation has, understandably, produced low negative correlations between socioeconomic status and self-reported delinquency. Footnotes and 22 references are listed.
Index Term(s): Economic influences; Environmental influences; Group behavior; Juvenile delinquency factors; Juvenile delinquency theory; Peer influences on behavior; Social classes
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