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The Juvenile Court and Social Welfare: Dynamics of Progressive Reform

John R. Sutton
Law & Society Review
Vol. 19, No. 1 (1985), pp. 107-146
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053396
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053396
Page Count: 39
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The Juvenile Court and Social Welfare: Dynamics of Progressive Reform
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Abstract

This analysis of the juvenile court movement is critical of both functionalist and social movement interpretations. Following Meyer and Rowan (1977) and Hagan et al. (1979), I suggest that the juvenile court was not a substantive reform but served primarily to extend conventional means of child-control through the legitimizing vocabulary of Progressivism. Descriptive analysis of state statutes shows the derivative, ambiguous nature of the juvenile court as a legal phenomenon. Dynamic analysis of the diffusion of juvenile court acts shows that neither functional need nor social movement influence provides a convincing explanation for the rapid institutionalization of the court.

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