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Adolescent Subcultures and Delinquency

NCJ Number
H Schwendinger; J S Schwendinger
Date Published
335 pages
This analysis of the rise in juvenile delinquency among middle-class youth contends that adolescent subcultures which violate the law are not produced by stressful conditions or the lack of commitment to conventional goals, but have emerged historically with the rise of capitalism and its economic and political consequences.
Beginning chapters associate the historic rise of capitalism, beginning in the 16th century, with certain varieties of youth cultures and their formations. This trend is illustrated by descriptions of youth groups in urban South American communities composed of rural migrants, streetcorner delinquents in North American ghettos, and delinquent children of the bourgeoisie, the socialites. Later chapters focus on the peer societies and subcultures themselves, giving attention to the parameters and socioeconomic variations of these adolescent networks. Examples from participant observation and interviews acquaint readers with adolescent metaphors used to classify members of the networks. These chapters also examine how ethical standpoints, local conditions, and subcultural development affect delinquency. The final chapters shift to the direct relationship between delinquency and adolescent subcultures, describing the structural conditions underlying the ethics that support antisocial conduct. Also covered are the rhetoric adopted by adolescents to justify their conduct and the relationships to justify their conduct and the relationships between sexism and violence. Ethnographic observations of socialite and streetcorner groups conclude the book. This section explores subcultural contexts within which delinquent activities develop: status relations that stimulate intergroup violence, high school fraternities and their pledging and hazing practices, car clubs and their effect on vehicle violations, and the impact of marijuana consumption on group solidarity. Finally, adolescent illegal markets are analyzed. A bibliography of nearly 200 entries and indexes are supplied.