Integrating Social Disorganization and Routine Activities Theories: The Importance of School-Level Time Use for Explaining Individual-Level Delinquency

Amy L. Anderson, The Pennsylvania State University
D. Wayne Osgood, Pennsylvania State University

The current research integrates the social disorganization and routine activities perspective. Specifically, we focus on unstructured socializing as an emergent property of a school, examining whether it can explain differences between schools in adolescents' risks for delinquency. Given the importance of social control in predicting delinquency in the social disorganization literature, results of the current study may provide a link between social disorganization and delinquency. Whereas social disorganization generally focuses on the social control by adults, routine activities theory focuses on the opportunities available to adolescents. We test to see whether the mean level of routine activities (unstructured socializing) mediates the relationship between social disorganization and adolescent delinquency. Additionally, the use of schools as a relevant context is an additional way of thinking about contextual effects on delinquency: the activity of school pulls together same-aged children who then can become aware of the routine activities and unstructured socializing of other children. We use multilevel modeling to analyze data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The method allows us to separate the individual level effect of time use from school contextual effect in order to focus on the between-school relationship.

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Updated 05/20/2006