Juvenile Delinquency, Theories Of - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Sociology

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Structural Functionalism and Delinquency

Structural-functional theories regard delinquent behavior as the consequence of strains or breakdowns in the social processes that produce conformity. These theories focus on institutions, such as the family and school, that socialize individuals to conform their behavior to values of the surrounding society and on the ways in which these institutions can fail in this task. Wide agreement or consensus is assumed about which behaviors are valued and disvalued in society. The question structural-functional theories try to answer is: Why do many individuals during their adolescence behave in ways that challenge this consensus? That is, why do many adolescents violate behavioral norms that nearly all of us are assumed to hold in common?

Anomie Theory. The roots of functional theory are found in Durkheim's notion of anomie ([1897] 1951). To Durkheim, this term meant an absence of social regulation, or normlessness. Merton (1938, 1957) revived the...

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This section contains 4,126 words
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Juvenile Delinquency, Theories Of from Encyclopedia of Sociology. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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