Routine activities and individual deviant behavior

D. Wayne Osgood, Janet K. Wilson, Patrick M. O'Malley, Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1111 Scopus citations


We extend the routine activity perspective's situational analysis of crime to individual offending and to a broad range of deviant behaviors. In this view, unstructured socializing with peers in the absence of authority figures presents opportunities for deviance: In the presence of peers, deviant acts will be easier and more rewarding; the absence of authority figures reduces the potential for social control responses to deviance; and the lack of structure leaves time available for deviant behavior. To determine whether individuals who spend more time in unstructured socializing activities engage in deviant behaviors more frequently, we analyzed within-individual changes in routine activities and deviance across five waves of data for a national sample of more than 1,700 18- to 26-year-olds. Participation in these routine activities was strongly associated with criminal behavior, heavy alcohol use, use of marijuana and other illicit drugs, and dangerous driving. Furthermore, routine activities accounted for a substantial portion of the association between these deviant behaviors and age, sex, and socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-655
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican sociological review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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