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Gender, Interaction, and Delinquency: Testing a Theory of Differential Social Control

Karen Heimer
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 59, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 39-61
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2787118
Page Count: 23
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Gender, Interaction, and Delinquency: Testing a Theory of Differential Social Control
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Abstract

This paper develops an interactionist explanation of gender differences in the processes leading to juvenile delinquency. Drawing on principles of symbolic interactionism and on research on gender differences in interactions, the paper specifies a theoretical model that generates predictions about similarities and differences across gender in the relationships between commitment to reference groups, role-taking, and delinquency. It then tests hypotheses using data from a national sample of youths, and finds that an interactionist theory of delinquency is supported for both females and males. The findings also show gender differences in the role-taking process leading to delinquency; indeed, these findings suggest an important difference in the process by which group social controls are transformed into self-control in delinquent situations among girls as compared with boys.

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