Causes of Delinquency


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ISBN: 978-0-7658-0900-1
Pages: 309
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 12-24-2001
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In Causes of Delinquency, Hirschi attempts to state and test a theory of delinquency, seeing in the delinquent a person relatively free of the intimate attachments, the aspirations, and the moral beliefs that bind most people to a life within the law. In prominent alternative theories, the delinquent appears either as a frustrated striver forced into delinquency by his acceptance of the goals common to us all, or as an innocent foreigner attempting to obey the rules of a society that is not in position to make the law or define conduct as good or evil. Hirschi analyzes a large body of data on delinquency collected in Western Contra Costa County, California, contrasting throughout the assumptions of the strain, control, and cultural deviance theories. He outlines the assumptions of these theories and discusses the logical and empirical difficulties attributed to each of them. Then draws from sources an outline of social control theory, the theory that informs the subsequent analysis and which is advocated here.

Often listed as a "Citation Classic," Causes of Delinquency retains its force and cogency with age. It is an important volume and a necessary addition to the libraries of sociologists, criminologists, scholars and students in the area of delinquency.

Editorial Reviews

"Travis Hirschi's Causes of Delinquency is not merely a turning point in deviance research. It is a book about adolescents, about Americans, a book, dare I say it, about America. It should be read then reread by those who, as they say, care about our people, and especially those whose private worlds of genuine concern often seem to by-pass an implacable reality."

—Thomas J. Cottle, Harvard Educational Review

"This is a highly significant piece of research which provides a serious challenge to the popular wisdom in criminology regarding delinquency."

—Don C. Gibbons, The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science

"Travis Hirschi's Causes of Delinquency is an important book. His analysis and interpretation . . . will stimulate extensive discussion and controversy among scholars of delinquency. . . . Evaluated by the important criterion of assessing the theoretical significance of his empirical results, both the questionnaire and the book are well designed. . . . Hirschi does a masterful job. . . . [T]his scholarly book is filled with significant analysis and deserves to be a major influence on the theory of delinquency."

—Llad Phillips, The Journal of Human Resources

"It seems unlikely that this or any other reviewer will justice to a book as important as this. . . . The value of this book . . . mark[s] Hirschi as an articulate theorist of genuine promise. . . . [T]he excellence of the empirical study . . . most assuredly will stimulate many additional efforts by others. . . . Hirschi shows himself to be a taskmaster in continuously returning to his theoretical formulations with which he integrates the whole."

—Joseph W. Rogers, The Sociological Quarterly

"With the publication of Causes of Delinquency Hirschi (1969) clearly reversed a two decade trend in criminology by assembling and integrating a major theory of delinquency causation which presents, examines, and is generally supported by research findings generated by the theorist himself."

—Michael J. Hindelang, Social Problems

"This book deserves the attention of those interested in delinquency and deviant behavior."

—Harwin L. Voss, American Sociological Review

"Causes of Delinquency is a benchmark for theory construction and research in the delinquency field."

—Michael D. Wiatrowski, David B. Griswold, and Mary K. Roberts, American Sociological Review

"The hallmark of the study is its systematic focus on important theoretical issues, using the most advanced survey methods and analytical techniques. The consistency of finds is remarkable. The presentation is lively, unencumbered by obscure language or logic, brilliantly argued. It is a work of major consequence."

—James F. Short, Jr., Washington State University

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
I. Perspectives on Delinquency
II. A Control Theory of Delinquency 
Ill. The Sample and the Data 
IV. What is Delinquency? 
v. The Social Distribution of Delinquency 
VI. Attachment to Parents
VII. Attachment to the School 
VIII. Attachment to Peers 
IX. Commitment to Conventional Lines of Action 
X. Involvement in Conventional Activities 
XI. Belief 
XII. A Look Back 
    A. Some Traditional Variables and Delinquency 
    B. A Note on Techniques of Analysis 
    c. Research Instruments 
    Selected Bibliography