Social integration of young offenders in a longitudinal perspective
In 1970 we interviewed two groups of juvenile delinquents with the objective of discovering factors related with delinquent behaviour. The theoretical background of the study is to be found in subcultural theory as worked out by Merton (1957), Cohen (1955), Cloward & Ohlin (1960). These sociologists hold that our society is essentially a class-society, and that adolescent boys of the lower social classes meet specific cultural, social and economic barriers which hinder them considerably in their adaptation to the existing social system. As Cloward and Ohlin (p. 86) say: ‘The disparity between what lower-class youth are led to want and what is actually available to them is the source of a major problem of adjustment. Adolescents who form delinquent subcultures, we suggest, have internalized an emphasis upon conventional goals. Faced with limitations on legitimate avenues of access to these goals, and unable to revise their aspirations downward, they experience intense frustrations; the exploration of non-conformist alternatives may be the result.’ However subcultural theory is not directly tested in this study, because of its essentially macro-character. But the authors indicate the importance of specific social sub-systems. Merton and Cohen see education as a way to high social status.
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