Integrating Traditional and Critical Theories: Gendered, Raced, and Classed Pathways Towards Crime, Substance Abuse, and Desistance

Rebecca S. Katz, Morehead State University

A variety of paradigms partially explain pathways leading toward crime, substance abuse, and desistance. While some of this work differentiates these pathways by class, gender and race, most traditional research relegates these lived contexts to simple dummy coded variables. This paper focuses on the extant work substantiating the existence of separate pathways to crime among distinctive gendered, raced, and classed groups. Additionally, recent theoretical work by Laub and Sampson reveals that regardless of the paradigm or discipline used, the transformation of identity is pivotal in leading toward desistance from crime and substance abuse. Thus this paper uses Laub and Sampson's argument to integrate disparate theories to explain the transformation of identity within the context of Messerschmidt's conceptualization that pathways to crime are clearly gendered, raced, and classed. This paper posits that pathways toward desistance from criminal behavior involves identity transformation within the context of changes in the gendered, raced and classed social structure, social networks, and neighborhoods, resulting in individual cognitive and emotional change, new attachments or bonds to pro-social others, and access to legitimate job training and opportunities by separately analyzing racial, gendered, and classed groups using the National Educational Longitudinal Study.

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Updated 05/20/2006