Specifying the Relationship Between Crime and Criminal Embeddedness During Adolescnce: A Longitudinal Analysis

Craig Rivera, University at Albany

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the inter-relationship between delinquency and criminal embeddedness/criminal capital during adolescence. Hagan defines criminal embeddedness as immersion, or embeddedness, in ongoing criminal networks consisting of deviant family members, peers, or other acquaintances. Criminal capital is basically defined as knowledge and technical skills that promote criminal activity, as well as beliefs or definitions that legitimize offending. The main question is whether delinquency leads to criminal embeddedness/capital, criminal embeddedness/capital leads to delinquency, or the two are reciprocally related over time. Each position has theoretical justification, and discerning the appropriate causal direction has important implications for theory specification and testing. A secondary issue to be examined involves those cases that do not 'fit the pattern.' Specifically, assuming there is a relationship between criminal embeddedness/capital and delinquency, it would be interesting to further study those subjects who are embedded in a criminal network but who do not engage in much delinquency. Perhaps there are certain 'protective factors' that help break this link between network membership and behavior. The analyses will be based on data from the Rochester Youth Development Study, a longitudinal study of primarily at-risk youth in an urban environment.

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Updated 05/20/2006