Juvenile delinquency: an integrated approach Essay
Juvenile delinquency: an integrated approach
Rick: A “Delinquent Youth”
The youth court adjudicated or judged Rick, a 14-year-old, a “delinquent youth,” for motor vehicle theft and placed him on formal probation for six months. He and a good friend took without permission a car that belonged to Rick’s father. They were pulled over by the police for driving erratically—a classic case of joyriding.
Rick was already a familiar figure in the juvenile court. When Rick was 12, he was referred to the court for “deviant sex” for an incident in which he was caught engaging in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl. The juvenile court dealt with this offense “informally.” A probation officer met with Rick and his parents to work out an agreement of informal probation that included “conditions” or rules, but no petition into court.
Not long after this first offense, Rick was taken into custody by the police for curfew violation and, on a separate occasion, vandalism—he and his good friend had gotten drunk and knocked down numerous mailboxes along a rural road. In both of these instances, Rick was taken to the police station and released to his parents.
Even though Rick’s first formal appearance in juvenile court was for the auto theft charge, he was already well-known to the police and probation departments. Rick was a very likable kid; he was pleasant and personable. He expressed a great deal of remorse for his delinquent acts and seemed to genuinely desire to change. He had a lot going for him; he was goal-directed, intelligent, and athletic. He interacted well with others, including his parents, teachers, and peers. His best friend, an American Indian boy who lived on a nearby reservation, was the same age as Rick and had many similar personal and social characteristics.
Not surprisingly, the boy also had a very similar offense record. In fact, Rick and his friend were often “companions in crime,” committing many of their delinquent acts together. Rick was the adopted son of older parents who loved him greatly and saw much ability and potential in him. They were truly perplexed by the trouble he was in, and they struggled to understand why Rick engaged in delinquent acts and what needed to be done about it. Rick, too, seemed to really care about his parents. He spent a good deal of time with them and apparently enjoyed their company. Because Rick was adopted as an infant, these parents were the people he considered family.
Rick attended school regularly and earned good grades. He was not disruptive in the classroom or elsewhere in the school. In fact, teachers reported that he was a very positive student both in and out of class and that he was academically motivated. He did his homework and handed in assignments on time. He was also actively involved in sports—football, wrestling, and track and field.
Rick’s six months of formal probation for auto theft turned into a twoyear period as he continued to get involved in delinquent acts. Through regular meetings and enforcement of probation conditions, his probation officer tried to work with Rick to break his pattern of delinquency. Such efforts were to no avail. Rick continued to offend, resulting in an almost routine series of court hearings that led to the extension of his probation supervision period.
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
The continuing pattern of delinquency included a long list of property and status offenses: minor in possession of alcohol, numerous curfew violations, continued vandalism, minor theft (primarily shoplifting), and continued auto theft, usually involving joyrides in his father’s car.
Rick’s “final” offense was criminal mischief, and it involved extensive destruction of property. Once again, Rick and his best friend “borrowed” his father’s car, got drunk, and drove to Edina, an affluent suburb of Minneapolis. For no apparent reason, they parked the car and began to walk along France Avenue, a major road with office buildings along each side. After walking a while, they started throwing small rocks toward buildings, seeing how close they could get. Their range increased quickly and the rocks soon reached their targets, breaking numerous windows.
The “fun” turned into thousands of dollars worth of window breakage in a large number of office buildings. Because of the scale of damage, Rick faced the possibility of being placed in a state training school. As a potential “loss of liberty case,” Rick was provided with representation by an attorney. This time, the juvenile court’s adjudication process followed formal procedures, including involvement of a prosecutor and a defense attorney. In the preliminary hearing, Rick admitted to the petition (statement of charges against him), and the case was continued to a later date for disposition (sentencing). In the meantime, the judge ordered a predisposition report.
The predisposition report is designed to individualize the court’s disposition to “fit the offender.” The investigation for the report uses multiple sources of information, including information from the arresting officer, parents, school personnel, coaches, employers, friends, relatives, and, most importantly, the offending youth. The predisposition report tries to describe and explain the pattern of delinquency and then offer recommendations for disposition based on the investigation. In Rick’s case, the predisposition report attempted to accurately describe and explain his persistent pattern of property and status offending, and it offered a recommendation for disposition.
Finding no information to justify otherwise, the probation officer recommended that Rick be committed to the Department of Corrections for placement at the Red Wing State Training School. Depending on one’s viewpoint, the state training school represented either a last ditch effort for rehabilitation or a means of punishment through restricted freedom. Either way, Rick was viewed as a chronic juvenile offender, with little hope for reform.
It was one of those formative experiences. I [coauthor Jim Burfeind] was fresh out of college and newly hired as a probation officer. I was meeting with two experienced attorneys—one the defense, the other the prosecutor. Almost in unison, it seemed, they turned to me and asked, “Why did Rick do this? Why did he develop such a persistent pattern of delinquency?” They wanted to make sense of Rick’s delinquency, and they wondered how the juvenile court could best respond to his case. I had become familiar with Rick only in the previous few weeks when his case was reassigned to me as part of my growing caseload as a new probation officer. Now, meeting with the attorneys to gather information for the predisposition
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
report, I was being asked to explain Rick’s pattern of delinquent behavior to two legal experts who had far more experience in the juvenile justice system than I did. I was, after all, new to the job. How could I possibly know enough to offer an explanation? I also had the daunting responsibility of making a recommendation for disposition that the judge would most likely follow completely. Rick’s future was at stake, and my recommendation would determine the disposition of the juvenile court. As I attempted to respond to the attorneys sitting in front of me, my mind was flooded with questions.
The answers to these questions became the basis for my predisposition report—an attempt to explain Rick’s delinquent behavior and, based on this understanding, to recommend what should be done through court disposition. The questions with which I wrestled included the following:
Is involvement in delinquency common among adolescents—that is, are most youths delinquent? Maybe Rick was just an unfortunate kid who got caught.
Are Rick’s offenses fairly typical of the types of offenses in which youths are involved?
Will Rick “grow out” of delinquent behavior?
Is Rick’s pattern of offending much the same as those of other delinquent youths?
Do most delinquent youths begin with status offenses and then persist and escalate into serious, repetitive offending? (Status offenses are acts, such as truancy and running away, that are considered offenses when committed by juveniles but are not considered crimes if committed by adults.) Is there a rational component to Rick’s delinquency so that punishment by the juvenile court would deter further delinquency?
Did the fact that Rick was adopted have anything to do with his involvement in delinquency? Might something about Rick’s genetic makeup and his biological family lend some insight into his behavior?
What role did Rick’s use of alcohol play in his delinquency? Are there family factors that might relate to Rick’s involvement in delinquency?
Were there aspects of Rick’s school experiences that might be related to his delinquency?
What role did Rick’s friend play in his delinquent behavior? Did the youth court’s formal adjudication of Rick as a “delinquent youth” two years earlier label him and make him more likely to continue in delinquent behavior?
Should the juvenile court retain jurisdiction for serious, repeat offenders like Rick?
What should the juvenile court try to do with Rick: punish, deter, or rehabilitate him? Should the juvenile court hold Rick less responsible for his acts than an adult because he has not fully matured?
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
Perhaps this list of questions seems a little overwhelming to you now. We don’t present them here with the expectation that you will be able to answer them. Instead, we present them to prompt you to think about what causes juvenile delinquency and to give you an idea of the types of questions that drive the scientific study of delinquent behavior. Throughout this book, we address these types of questions as we define delinquency; consider the nature of delinquent offenses, offenders, and offending; and present a variety of theories to explain delinquent behavior. We return to Rick’s story and these questions in Chapter 14. After reading the next 12 chapters, you should have the tools necessary to think about and respond to these questions in a whole new light.
■ Understanding Juvenile Delinquency
The questions that shape the scientific study of juvenile delinquency constitute attempts to define, describe, explain, and respond to delinquent
behavior. Rather than being asked with regard to a particular case like Rick’s, the questions that inspire the study of juvenile delinquency are cast more broadly in order to understand delinquent behavior as it occurs among adolescents. An understanding of delinquent behavior builds upon explanations that have been offered in theories and findings that have been revealed in research. The primary purpose of this book is to cultivate an understanding of juvenile delinquency by integrating theory and research. Throughout the book, we focus on the central roles that theory and research play in the study of delinquency, because these two components form the core of any scientific inquiry.
Before we go any further, we must define what we mean by “juvenile delinquency.” This definition is far more complicated than you might think. In the next chapter, we offer a thorough discussion of the social construction and transformation of the concept of juvenile delinquency. Here we offer a brief working definition of juvenile delinquency as actions that violate the law, committed by a person who is under the legal age of majority. Our exploration of juvenile delinquency reflects the four basic tasks of the scientific study of delinquency—to define, describe, explain, and respond to delinquent behavior.
The first two major sections of this book are devoted to defining and describing juvenile delinquency, the third section to explaining delinquent behavior, and the final section to contemporary ways of responding to juvenile delinquency. Responses to delinquent behavior, however, should be based on a thorough understanding of delinquency. Thus, an understanding of juvenile delinquency must come first.
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
The first section of this book describes the historical transformation of the concept of juvenile delinquency and the methods and data sources researchers use to study involvement in delinquent behavior. We begin by developing a working understanding of what we commonly call “juvenile delinquency” (Chapter 2). This includes not only the social, political, and economic changes that led to the social construction of juvenile delinquency as a legal term, but also the contemporary transformations that have dramatically altered how we as a society
Actions that violate the
law, committed by a
person who is under the
legal age of majority.
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
view, define, and respond to juvenile delinquency. We then explore how researchers “measure” delinquency (Chapter 3). We describe the research process, various methods of gathering data and doing research on juvenile delinquency, and sources of data on crime and delinquency.
The Nature of Delinquency
The second section of this book presents a trilogy of chapters in which we describe the nature of delinquent offenses, offenders, and patterns of offending. Any attempt to explain juvenile delinquency must first be able to accurately describe the problem in terms of these three dimensions. Chapters 4 through 6 report research findings that describe the extent of delinquent offenses (Chapter 4), the social characteristics of delinquent offenders (Chapter 5), and the developmental patterns of delinquent offending (Chapter 6).
Explaining Delinquent Behavior
The third section of this book examines a variety of explanations of delinquency that criminologists have proposed in theories and examined in research related to those theories. These chapters are organized in terms of the major themes that run through seven different groups of theories. One group of theories, for example, emphasizes the importance of peer group
influences on delinquency. These theories, called social learning theories, address how delinquent behavior is learned in the context of peer group relations (Chapter 11).
Six other themes are also considered: the question of whether delinquency is chosen or determined (Chapter 7); the role of individual factors, including biological characteristics and personality, in explaining delinquent behavior (Chapter 8); situational and routine dimensions of delinquency (Chapter 9); the importance of social relationships, especially family relations and school experiences, in controlling delinquency (Chapter 10);
the structure of society, and how societal characteristics motivate individual behavior (Chapter 12); and social and societal responses to delinquency (Chapter 13). We also apply these various explanations to Rick’s case, which opened this chapter, and examine integrated theoretical approaches (Chapter 14). Throughout the book, as we present theoretical explanations for delinquency, we weave together theories and the most relevant research that criminologists have conducted to test those theories.
Responding to Juvenile Delinquency
The final section of this book comprises a single chapter that describes contemporary juvenile justice (Chapter 15). We have deliberately chosen to keep the discussion of juvenile justice in one chapter, in order to provide an undivided view of its structure and process. The formal system of juvenile justice includes police, courts, and corrections. Yet a substantial amount of juvenile delinquency is dealt with informally, sometimes by agencies outside the “system.” Juvenile justice encompasses efforts at prevention, together with informal and formal action taken by the traditional juvenile justice system.
Formal procedures, such as taking youths into custody and adjudicating them as delinquent youths, are central to the task of responding to juvenile delinquency. But informal procedures designed to prevent delinquency and divert youths from the juvenile justice system are far more common.
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
■ Developing and Evaluating Theories
In 1967, two noted sociologists, Travis Hirschi and Hanan Selvin, observed that theories of delinquency suggest a “sequence of steps through which a person moves from law abiding behavior to . . . delinquency.”1 Criminological theories try to identify and describe the key causal factors that make up this “sequence of steps” leading to delinquent behavior. In doing so, theories of delinquency emphasize certain factors as being causally important and then describe how these factors are interrelated in producing delinquent behavior. Stated simply: “a theory is an explanation.”2
Components of Theories
Like other scientific theories, theories of delinquency are composed of two basic parts: concepts and propositions. Concepts isolate and categorize features of the world that are thought to be causally important.3 Different theories of juvenile delinquency incorporate and emphasize different concepts. For example, the theories of delinquency we consider in later chapters include concepts such as personality traits, intelligence, routine activities of adolescents, relationship ties (called attachments), associations with delinquent friends, and social disorganization of neighborhoods.
Concepts require definition.4 Definitions serve two functions: they clarify concepts and provide common understanding, and they describe how concepts will be measured for the purpose of research. Propositions tell how concepts are related. Scientific theories use propositions to make statements about the relationships between concepts.5 Some propositions imply a positive linear relationship in which the “concepts increase or decrease together in a relatively straight-line fashion.”6 For example, some theories offer the proposition that the number of delinquent friends is positively related to delinquent behavior: as the number of delinquent friends increases, so does the likelihood of delinquency.
In a negative linear relationship, the concepts vary in opposite directions. For instance, one theory offers the proposition that level of attachment and delinquency are negatively related: as attachment increases, delinquent behavior decreases. Relationships between concepts may also be curvilinear. Here, too, the concepts vary together, either positively or negatively, but after reaching a certain level, the relationship moves in the opposite direction. For example, researchers have found that parental discipline is related to delinquency in a curvilinear fashion.7 Delinquent behavior is most frequent when parental discipline is either lacking or excessive, but it is least common when levels of discipline are moderate.
If you think of parental discipline as a continuum, delinquency is highest on the two ends of the discipline continuum, when discipline is lax or excessive, and lowest in the middle, when discipline is moderate. Different theories may offer competing propositions. One theory may propose that two concepts are related in a particular way, whereas another theory may claim that they are unrelated. For example, one of the major issues in delinquency theory is the role of the family in explaining delinquent behavior. One major theory contends that the family is essentially unrelated to delinquent behavior and that delinquent peers are an important factor in explaining delinquency. Another
theory An explanation
that makes a systematic
and logical argument
regarding what is
important and why.
concepts Isolated features
of the world that are
thought to be causally
statements that tell how
concepts are related.
theory of delinquency
A set of logically related
propositions that explain
why and how selected
concepts are related to
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
influential theory proposes the opposite relationship, arguing that family relations are strongly related to delinquency, whereas peer relations are less important in explaining delinquency.8 To summarize, a theory of delinquency is a set of logically related propositions that explain why and how selected concepts are related to delinquent behavior.9 A theory offers a logically developed argument that certain concepts are important in causing delinquent behavior. The purpose of theory, then, is to explain juvenile delinquency.
Levels of Explanation
level of explanation The
realm of explanation—
individual, microsocial, or
corresponds to the types of
concepts incorporated into
Theories of delinquency operate at three different levels of explanation: individual, microsocial, and macrosocial.10 On the individual level, theories focus on traits and characteristics of individuals, either innate or learned, that make some people more likely than others to engage in delinquent behavior. The microsocial level of explanation considers the social processes by which individuals become the “kinds of people” who commit delinquent acts.11 Criminologists have emphasized family relations and delinquent peer group influences at this level. Some microsocial theories also point to the importance of the structural context of social interaction.12 Race, gender, and social class, for example, influence social interaction not only within families and peer groups, but in virtually all social contexts.
As a result, the distinction between social process and social structure is not always clear, nor is it always useful as a means of categorizing theoretical explanations.13 At the macrosocial level, societal characteristics such as social class and social cohesiveness are used to explain group variation in rates of delinquency.14 For example, poverty, together with the absence of community social control, is central to several explanations of why gang delinquency is more common in lower-class areas.15 The level of explanation—individual, microsocial, or macrosocial—corresponds to the types of concepts incorporated into a theory.16 Individual-level explanations tend to incorporate biological and psychological concepts.
Microsocial explanations most often use social psychological concepts, but may incorporate structural concepts that influence social interaction. Macrosocial explanations draw extensively on sociological concepts. Theories can be combined to form “integrated theories” (see Chapter 14), which sometimes merge different levels of explanation into a single theoretical framework.
We have proposed that concepts and propositions are the bare essentials of theory.17 These components, however, do not automatically produce a valid explanation of delinquency. We can begin to assess the validity of theory—the degree to which it accurately and adequately explains delinquent behavior—by paying attention to several key dimensions of theory.18 We highlight these dimensions (e.g., clarity, consistency, testability, applicability) in the following list of questions. We invite you to ask yourself these questions as you evaluate the theories of delinquency we present in later chapters and consider how well they explain delinquent behavior.
1. Conceptual clarity: How clearly are the theoretical concepts identified and defined?19 How well do the concepts and propositions fit together—how compatible, complementary, and congruent are they?20
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
2. Logical consistency: Does the theoretical argument develop logically and consistently? Do the concepts and propositions depict a causal process leading to delinquency? 3. Parsimony: How concise is the theory in terms of its concepts and propositions? This question concerns economy of explanation. Generally, simpler is better. So if two theories explain delinquency equally well, we should favor the theory that offers the more concise explanation with the smaller number of concepts.
4. Scope: What is the theory attempting to explain?21 Some theories try to explain a wide variety of criminal acts and criminal offenders. Others focus on particular types of offenses or offenders. What question is the theory designed to answer? Theories of delinquency usually address one of two basic questions: (1) How and why are laws made and enforced? and (2) Why do some youths violate the law?22 Far more theories try to answer the second question than the first.23
5. Level of explanation: At what level (individual, microsocial, or macrosocial) does the theory attempt to explain delinquency? 6. Testability: To what extent can the theory be tested—verified or disproved by research evidence? It is not enough for a theory simply to “make sense” by identifying key concepts and then offering propositions that explain how these concepts are related to delinquency.24 Rather, theories must be constructed in such a way that they can be subjected to research verification.25
7. Research validity: To what extent has the theory been supported by research evidence? 8. Applicability and usefulness: To what extent can the theory be applied practically? In other words, to what extent is the theory useful in policy and practice?
These questions reflect key concerns in assessing theory. In the end, theory is the foundation for the accumulation of knowledge, and it is indispensable for an understanding of juvenile delinquency. However, theory must be tested through research. Together, theory and research constitute the two basic components of a scientific approach to juvenile delinquency.
■ Purposes of Delinquency Research
Delinquency research serves two vital purposes: to generate or develop theory, and to test theory.26 In Chapter 3, we discuss research methods and sources of data used in the study of delinquency. Here we briefly describe the two purposes of research as it relates to theory.
Research is sometimes used to gain sufficient information about juvenile delinquency to theorize about it.27 Despite the old adage, “the data speak for themselves,” research findings about delinquency require interpretation, and it is this interpretation that yields theory. As a result, the development of theoretical
inductive theorizing The
development of theory
from research observations.
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
explanations of delinquency requires a long, hard look at the “facts” of
delinquency (repeated and consistent findings), in order to isolate and identify key concepts and then explain how these concepts are related to delinquent behavior. Along this line, Donald Shoemaker defines theory as “an attempt to make sense out of observations.”28 The difficult task of making theoretical sense of research observations is sometimes referred to as “grounded theory” or inductive theorizing.
29 In the process of inductive theorizing, research involves collecting data and making empirical observations, which are then used to develop theory. For example, Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck, whose work we discuss more fully in later chapters, spent their entire careers attempting to uncover the most important empirical findings about juvenile delinquency.
They referred to their task as Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency—the title of their most important book.30 The Gluecks’ work was heavily criticized for being atheoretical, or without theory.31 Their research, however, was clearly directed at providing empirical observations that would allow for the development of a theoretical explanation of delinquency, even though they never developed such a theory.32 In recent years, their data and findings have become the basis for an important new theory called “life-course theory,” which we describe in Chapter 10.
The evaluation of
Research also provides the means to evaluate theory and to choose among alternative theories.33 In contrast to inductive theorizing, deductive theorizing begins with theoretical statements and then attempts to test the validity of theoretical predictions.34 As we already discussed, theories advance explanations of delinquency in which propositions identify certain concepts and describe how they are related to delinquent behavior.
These theoretically predicted relationships can be tested through research and either verified or disproved. For example, one simple proposition of differential association theory (presented in Chapter 11) is that attitudes favoring delinquency are learned in the context of “intimate personal groups.”35 The predicted relationship portrayed here is that youths develop attitudes from peer group relations, and delinquent behavior is then an expression of these attitudes:
If research findings support the theoretical propositions tested, then the theory is verified or confirmed. If research findings are not consistent with the predicted relationships, then the theory is disproved. Different theories often offer different predictions. To continue with the previous example, differential association theory and social bond theory (presented in Chapter 10) provide competing predictions about the relationships between peers, attitudes, and delinquent behavior.
In contrast to differential association theory, social bond theory contends that attitudes are largely a product of family relationships.36 Delinquent attitudes result in delinquent behavior. Associations with delinquent peers then follow from delinquent behavior as youths seek out friendships with others like themselves. The relationships predicted by social bond theory are as follows:
The Study of Juvenile Delinquency
As this brief example illustrates, theories have empirical implications, and one purpose of research is to enable scholars to choose among competing theories.37 The preceding discussion of the two purposes of delinquency research implies that the processes of inductive theorizing and deductive theorizing are completely distinct. The former is used to generate or develop theory; the latter is used to test theory. We must acknowledge, however, the complexity of the relationship between theory and research, and note that the distinction between the two purposes of research is not necessarily clear-cut. Even within the process of deductive theorizing, for example, an element of inductive theorizing exists.
In deductive theorizing, researchers begin with theoretical predictions and then use empirical observations to test those propositions. The research results may lead to modification or refinement of the theory being tested. The latter part of this process, in which observations are interpreted and may result in a revised statement of theory, is consistent with the process of inductive theorizing. Although the relationship between theory and research is complex, it is clear that the development of theory and the performance of research go hand in hand.38
■ Summary and Conclusions
The scientific study of juvenile delinquency attempts to describe and explain delinquent behavior through theory and research. Theory seeks to provide a systematic and logical argument that specifies what is important in causing delinquency and why. Like other scientific theories, theories of delinquency are composed of concepts and propositions. It is necessary to assess the validity of theories, including those we apply to explain delinquency. We provided a series of questions that you can use to evaluate the theories of delinquency we present in later chapters.
The second basic component of the scientific method is research. In relation to theory, research serves two purposes: to generate theory and to test theory. Research is sometimes used to gain sufficient information about juvenile delinquency so that it becomes possible to theorize about it. The development of theory from research observations is called inductive theorizing.39 Research is also used to evaluate or test theory in a process called deductive theorizing. As we noted earlier, the primary purpose of this book is to cultivate an understanding of juvenile delinquency by integrating theory and research.
This chapter has offered an overview of the key elements of a scientific approach to juvenile delinquency, focusing especially on theory. We describe research methods in Chapter 3. With this basic understanding of theory and its relationship to research, we can begin our study of juvenile delinquency on solid ground.
The first two sections of this book present criminologists’ efforts to define and describe juvenile delinquency, the third major section presents explanations of juvenile delinquency that have been offered in theory and tested in research, and the fourth section considers contemporary responses to delinquency. Throughout the book, we present theoretical explanations of delinquency together with the most relevant research that has tested those theories.
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS
1. Define theory without using the words “concept” or “proposition.” 2. Why does a scientific approach to juvenile delinquency depend on theory? 3. Develop your own example of inductive theorizing. Develop your own example
of deductive theorizing.
4. As you read Rick’s story at the beginning of this chapter, what factors seemed most significant to you in considering why Rick engaged in delinquency? Why?
Gibbons, Don C. Talking About Crime and Criminals: Problems and Issues in Theory Development in Criminology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.
concepts: Isolated features of the world that are thought to be causally important. deductive theorizing: The evaluation of theoretical statements through research. inductive theorizing: The development of theory from research observations. juvenile delinquency: Actions that violate the law, committed by a person who is under the legal age of majority.
level of explanation: The realm of explanation—individual, microsocial, or macrosocial—that corresponds to the types of concepts incorporated into theories.
propositions: Theoretical statements that tell how concepts are related. theory: An explanation that makes a systematic and logical argument regarding what is important and why.
theory of delinquency: A set of logically related propositions that explain why and how selected concepts are related to delinquent behavior.
Akers, Ronald L. Criminological Theories: Introduction, Evaluation, and Application. 4th ed. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury, 2004.
Babbie, Earl. The Practice of Social Research. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1998. Bohm, Robert M. A Primer on Crime and Delinquency Theory. 2nd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001. Cloward, Richard A., and Lloyd E. Ohlin. Delinquency and Opportunity: A Theory of Delinquent Gangs. New York: Free Press, 1960.
Cohen, Albert K. Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang. New York: Free Press, 1955. ———. Deviance and Control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1966. Cohen, Bernard P. Developing Sociological Knowledge: Theory and Method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1980.
Curran, Daniel J., and Claire M. Renzetti. Theories of Crime. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.
Gibbons, Don C. The Criminological Enterprise: Theories and Perspective. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1979. ———. Talking About Crime and Criminals: Problems and Issues in Theory Development in Criminology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994.
Gibbons, Don C., and Marvin D. Krohn. Delinquent Behavior. 5th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991.
Gibbs, Jack P. “The State of Criminological Theory.” Criminology 25 (1987):821–840. Glaser, Barney, and Anselm L. Straus. The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine, 1967. Glueck, Sheldon, and Eleanor Glueck. Unraveling Delinquency. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1950.
Hepburn, John R. “Testing Alternative Models of Delinquency Causation.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 67 (1976):450–460.
Hirschi, Travis. Causes of Delinquency. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969. Hirschi, Travis, and Hanan C. Selvin. Delinquency Research: An Appraisal of Analytic Methods. New York: Free Press, 1967.
Jensen, Gary F “Parents, Peers, and Delinquent Action: A Test of the Differential Association Per. spective.” American Sociological Review 78 (1972):562–575. Laub, John H., and Robert J. Sampson. “The Sutherland–Glueck Debate: On the Sociology of Criminological Knowledge.” American Journal of Sociology 96 (1991):1402–1440. Sampson, Robert J., and John H. Laub. Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Shaw, Clifford R., and Henry D. McKay. Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas:
A Study of Rates of Delinquency in Relation to Differential Characteristics of Local Communities in American Cities. Rev. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969.
Shoemaker, Donald J. Theories of Delinquency: An Examination of Explanations of Delinquent Behavior. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Short, James F Jr. “The Level of Explanation Problem Revisited.” Criminology 36 (1998):3–36. .,
Stark, Rodney. Sociology. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1998. Stinchcombe, Arthur L. Constructing Social Theories. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1968. Sutherland, Edwin H., Donald R. Cressey, and David F Luckenbill. Principles of Criminology. 11th ed. .
Dix Hills, NY: General Hall, 1992.
Turner, Jonathan. The Structure of Sociological Theory. Rev. ed. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1978. Vold, George B., Thomas J. Bernard, and Jeffrey B. Snipes. Theoretical Criminology. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Hirschi and Selvin, Delinquency Research, 66.
Bohm, Primer, 1.
Turner, Structure of Sociological Theory, 2–3.
Bohm, Primer, 2. See Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, 140–148, for a full discussion of concept definition. Vold, Bernard, and Snipes, Theoretical Criminology, 4.
Bohm, Primer, 2.
Glueck and Glueck, Unraveling Delinquency.
Sutherland, Cressey, and Luckenbill, Principles of Criminology, 211–214; and Hirschi, Causes of Delinquency, 140–146.
Stark, Sociology, 2; and Curran and Renzetti, Theories of Crime, 2. Short, “Level of Explanation.”
Albert K. Cohen, Deviance and Control, 43; and Gibbons, Criminological Enterprise, 9. Sampson and Laub, Crime in the Making; Sutherland, Cressey, and Luckenbill, Principles of Criminology; and Short, “Level of Explanation.” Akers, Criminological Theories, 4–5.
14. Albert K. Cohen, Deviance and Control, 43; Gibbons, Criminological Enterprise, 9; and Akers, Criminological Theories, 4.
15. Shaw and McKay, Juvenile Delinquency; Albert K. Cohen, Delinquent Boys; and Cloward and Ohlin, Delinquency and Opportunity.
16. Short points out, in “The Level of Explanation Problem Revisited” (3), that the level of explanation corresponds to the unit of observation and the unit of analysis. 17. Our discussion of delinquency theory comprising concepts and propositions makes theory seem simple and straightforward. But we must admit that, among social scientists, “there is still no agreed-upon view of what theory is” (Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, 170). See also Gibbs, “State of Criminological Theory.”
18. Drawn from Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, 191–192. 19. Shoemaker, Theories of Delinquency, 9.
20. Akers, Criminological Theories, 6–7; and Shoemaker, Theories of Delinquency, 9. 21. Akers, Criminological Theories, 6–7; and Curran and Renzetti, Theories of Crime, 3. 22. Akers, Criminological Theories, 2–6. Renowned criminologist Edwin Sutherland defined criminology as the study of
law making, law breaking, and law enforcement (Sutherland, Cressey, and Luckenbill, Principles of Criminology, 3).
23. Akers, Criminological Theories, 4. Gibbons (Talking About Crime, 9–11, 73–76) describes two key criminological questions: “Why do they do it?” and “the rates question.” The first question addresses “the origins and development of criminal acts and careers,” and the second question addresses “organizations, social systems, social structures, and cultures that produce different rates of behaviors of interest” (9). See also Gibbons, Criminological Enterprise, 9; Gibbons and Krohn, Delinquent Behavior, 85–86; and Short, “Level of Explanation,” 7. 24. Akers, Criminological Theories, 7.
25. Stinchcombe, Constructing Social Theories.
26. Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, vii, 10; and Stark, Sociology, 3. 27. Stark, Sociology, 3.
28. Shoemaker, Theories of Delinquency, 7.
29. Glaser and Straus, Discovery of Grounded Theory; and Babbie, Practice of Social Research, 4, 60–64. 30. Glueck and Glueck, Unraveling Delinquency, 1950.
31. Gibbons and Krohn, Delinquent Behavior, 83–84.
32. Laub and Sampson, “Sutherland–Glueck Debate;” and Sampson and Laub, Crime in the Making. 33. Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, 10. 34. Babbie, Practice of Social Research, 4.
35. Sutherland, Cressey, and Luckenbill, Principles of Criminology, 88–89. 36. Jensen, “Parents;” Hepburn, “Testing Alternative Models;” and Hirschi, Causes of Delinquency. 37. Stark, Sociology, 2; and Bernard P. Cohen, Developing Sociological Knowledge, 10. 38. Gibbons, Talking About Crime, 7.
39. Stark, Sociology, 3.