Social control and socialisation : the role of morality as a social mechanism in adolescent deviant behaviour

University dissertation from Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell International

Abstract: The object of this doctoral dissertation is to study the processes and mechanisms that restrain adolescents from committing deviant and criminal acts. The framework is that when the socialisation process functions well, and norms and values are internalised, an individual will develop a moral sense as to what is right and wrong. In line with this, morality is examined as a social mechanism that may assist us in understanding and explaining the relationship between socialisation and adolescent deviance and criminal offences. The dissertation also discusses what influence the peer group and structural conditions have on deviant and delinquent behaviour. The dissertation is based on three empirical studies.The first study examines gender differences in adolescent drug use in terms of parental monitoring and peer deviance. Females are found to be more highly monitored than males whilst males are more exposed to deviant peers than females. There is a significant interaction between parental monitoring and peer deviance for the sample as a whole. The effect of this interaction is greater among females, indicating that exposure to deviant peers is more important for the drug use of females in families where parental monitoring is poor.The second study examines the relationship between gender, parent-child relations, shame, and juvenile delinquency. The study proceeds from a social bonding theoretical framework and hypothesises that shame will act as an intervening mechanism through which poor parentchild relations impact upon delinquency. The present study addresses three key research questions. Are girls more strongly attached to and controlled by their parents than boys? Do girls feel more shame in the face of significant others than boys? And finally, does shame mediate the effect of parent-child relations in the explanation of delinquency? The findings show girls to be more strongly attached to parents, more controlled and to feel more shame than boys. Finally, the analyses show that feeling less shame in the face of significant others tended to mediate the effect of poor parent-child relations on delinquency for girls. For boys, both family interaction and shaming components are significantly related to delinquency.The third study examines the way attachment to parents and school bonds are linked to levels of self-esteem (measured as self-rejection) and morality (measured as pro-social values), and whether these factors are linked to associations with delinquent friends in the explanation of delinquency. The findings show that strong bonds to family and school correspond with low levels of self-rejection and high pro-social values. Poor bonding to school and low levels of pro-social values increase the risk for involvement in delinquent peer groups. Poor school bonds, low levels of pro-social values and associating with delinquent friends are related to delinquency for boys and girls. Levels of self-rejection have a more important effect on the delinquency of boys. The results show that the impact of attachment to parents and school bonds on delinquency is for the most part mediated by levels of pro-social values for both boys and girls.

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