Differential Association and Delinquency: An Examination of Multiple Ethnic Groups

Cynthia Perez McCluskey, Michigan State University
Marvin D. Krohn, University at Albany

This paper examines differential association as a general explanation of deviant behavior. The theory is thought to apply broadly, and the transmission of learned behavior is expected to be invariant across racial/ethnic groups. Assertions made by Chicano/Latino scholars challenge this notion. They suggest that traditional theories do not adequately explain Latino delinquency because they fail to consider the Latino perspective and were originally generated to describe the experience of White, European males. At the same time, empirical research has demonstrated ethnic differences in the social influences related to deviant behavior. This paper attempts to determine whether differential association provides a similar explanation of deviance across multiple ethnic groups, using data from the Rochester Youth Development Study. Separate models are estimated for Latinos, Whites, and African Americans to assess the universality of this theoretical perspective.

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Updated 05/20/2006