Unraveling Crime in the Making: Re-examining the Family Context of Adolescent Delinquency

Kelly H. Hardwick, University of Calgary

Sampson and Laub's (1993) Crime in the Making ranks as one of the most important and influential works in criminology over the past decade. Although their work has had a major impact on the criminological enterprise, surprisingly, to date, it has essentially been left unchallenged. This paper represents a critical and crucial theoretical and empirical re-examination and re-analysis of Sampson and Laub's informal social control theory, within the family context, using the Glueck and Glueck data. Theoretically, it argues that the family model presented by Sampson and Laub is mis-specified by omitting a measure or measures of self-control and including incomplete measures of "difficult temperament." As a result, Sampson and Laub's results and interpretation overemphasize the importance of informal social control in the genesis of adolescent delinquency. Empirically, a careful re-analysis and re-specification of Sampson and Laub's family process model shows that, indeed, the case made for informal social control in Crime in the Making was likely overstated.

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Updated 05/20/2006