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Title:Youth status achievement and legal sanctions: A longitudinal study
Author(s):Li, De
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Britt, Chester L., III
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Theory and Methods
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Abstract:In the last few years there have been hotly contested debates concerning treatment of juvenile delinquents. A key issue in the debates is whether legal sanctions promote or hinder legitimate life chances for juvenile delinquents. This study aims to inform this ongoing debate by answering: (1) whether or not legal sanctions have adverse effects on status achievement of delinquents, and (2) what type of social control, formal or informal, is the best way to promote legitimate social opportunities among troubled youths.
Empirical studies concerning theories relating to delinquency and status achievement, including status attainment, life course perspective, reintegrative shaming, social control, labeling, deterrence, and population heterogeneity and state dependence, are examined. Based on the previous research, it is hypothesized that family background, personal differences and informal social control within the family have strong effects on status achievement in early adulthood. The effects of legal sanctions are weak and dependent on the level of informal social control. It is also hypothesized that social bond, in the form of attachment, commitment, involvement and belief, has a positive effect on status achievement.
This study uses the London panel data created by West and Farrington. A LISREL model is used to analyze the data. The empirical analysis produces mixed support for the hypotheses. On the one hand, it is found that family background, personal differences and social bond to family, school and community have strong effects on status achievement in early adulthood. On the other hand, this study also yields considerable support for the labeling perspective. Legal sanctions are found to have strong adverse effects on status achievement. The empirical findings also provide strong support for the life course perspective by showing that both population heterogeneity and important life events affect delinquency involvement and status achievement.
The policy implications of these findings are discussed. It is suggested that reducing problems at home is a fundamental step towards delinquency prevention and control. Strengthening social bond and creating job opportunities for troubled youths are also effective means to reduce delinquency and promote status achievement. Legal sanction should be avoided because it undermines legitimate social opportunities.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Li, De
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712349
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712349

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