UNSTRUCTURED SOCIALIZING AND RATES OF DELINQUENCY

Authors

  • D. WAYNE OSGOOD,

    1. D. Wayne Osgood is professor of crime, law and justice and sociology at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park. His research focuses on delinquency and other deviant behaviors of adolescence, including the transition to adulthood, time use and deviance, criminal careers, evaluation of juvenile justice programs, and statistical methods.
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  • AMY L. ANDERSON

    1. Amy L. Anderson is assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her research interests include communities and crime, social context and delinquency, family influences on offending, peers and delinquency, quantitative methods and spatial analyses. She is the 2001 winner of the Gene Carte Student Paper Competition of the American Society of Criminology.
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  • The authors are especially grateful to Finn Esbensen for access to these data and for his longstanding support for their work. Thanks also to Rich Felson, Phil Schwadel, Jennifer Schwartz, Brian Goesling and Eric Silver for helpful comments on earlier drafts. This research was supported in part by award 94-IJ-CX-0058 from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Abstract

This article applies an individual-level routine activities perspective to explaining rates of delinquency. The theoretical analysis also links the opportunity processes of that perspective to key themes of social disorganization theory. Multilevel analyses of 4, 358 eighth-grade students from thirty-six schools in ten cities support the central hypothesis: Time spent in unstructured socializing with peers has both individual and contextual effects that explain a large share of the variation in rates of delinquency across groups of adolescents who attend different schools. In addition, parental monitoring has a very strong contextual effect on unstructured socializing, which supports the proposed integration of routine activity and social disorganization perspectives.

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