Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Peer Group Revisited: A Network Approach for Understanding Delinquency

Project: Research project

Project Details


A central sociological problem concerns the process by which individuals come to engage in delinquent behavior. The objective of this doctoral dissertation project is to examine the role of the peer group in influencing adolescent delinquency. Although sociologists and criminologists place much emphasis on the peer group as a determinant of delinquent behavior, little effort has been directed at some fundamental questions: 1) What are the mechanisms through which a peer group influences delinquency? 2) How does the influence of peer groups change as adolescents undergo developmental changes? 3) What role does the school context play in mediating the effects of peer groups on adolescent's delinquent behavior? The research to be conducted for this project will pay special attention to the social networks within which individuals are located. It will employ data from The Adolescent Health Survey to address these issues in new ways. An important advantage of these data is the inclusion of exceptionally detailed social network information on high school aged adolescents. Data will be analyzed using multilevel modeling techniques where adolescents and their peer groups are situated within the school environment. This allows for the influence of school characteristics to mediate the relationship between peer network characteristics and adolescent delinquency. This research will improve upon current knowledge by taking network structure into account in order to gain a better understanding of the ways in which peer groups operate within schools to influence delinquent behavior.

Effective start/end date9/1/988/31/99


  • National Science Foundation: $3,153.00


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