Social networks and delinquency in adolescence: Implications for life-course criminology

Jacob Young, Carter Rees

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    19 Scopus citations


    Over the last decade, social networks have become a focal concern for research seeking to understand the etiology of delinquent behavior. The study of the role of peers in the perpetuation of delinquency during adolescence has been reinvigorated by the theoretical and empirical rigor relational data and social network analysis brings to the study of human relationships. The development and availability of statistical models designed to account for the inherent dependencies in relational data, such as stochastic actor-oriented models (e.g., SIENA), exponential random graph models (ERGM), and actor-partner interdependence models (APIM), have led to a greater understanding of the role of selection, homophily, and socialization in the study of crime and delinquency. Furthermore, longitudinal data sets, such as the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), have yielded invaluable insights into the dynamic nature of the adolescent social landscape over time and the mapping of behavioral pathways to this context. However, the focus on the adolescent time frame provides insights into relationships for only a portion of the human life cycle. Therefore, in this chapter, we provide a broad overview of the changing nature of adolescent peer networks and their importance for delinquency and crime. We place particular emphasis on the implications for understanding trajectories of crime and turning points in the life course. Our goal is to provide the reader with a greater understanding of dyadic, egocentric, and global network structures in which people are embedded and how each of these relationship levels can be set in motion to capture the continuity and change common to the human social experience. We develop an ambitious research agenda that involves a unifying discussion of social networks and social capital in criminological theory. We put forth topics for an innovative research agenda grounded in the relevant literature with the goal of articulating a research plan that will help spark empirical and theoretical advancements in life-course criminology.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationHandbook of Life-Course Criminology
    Subtitle of host publicationEmerging Trends and Directions for Future Research
    PublisherSpringer New York
    Number of pages22
    ISBN (Electronic)9781461451136
    ISBN (Print)9781461451129
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Social Sciences


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