Conceptual and Measurement Issues in Assessing Serious Youth Violence Over the Early-Adolescent Life-Course: A Social Capital Approach

Joseph B. Richardson, Rutgers University

Early adolescence traditionally marks the onset of delinquency and violent behavior. If the early-adolescent life-course typically falls between the ages of 12-15, there is a relatively brief period of time to assess and measure behavioral changes based on how an individual either: persists, desists or refrains from engaging in serious youth violence. How these changes in behavior are identified, measured and assessed over a relatively short period of time requires a conceptual approach that is both coherent in its objective and effective in its task. Social capital theory is a relatively new and innovative conceptual approach used to assess and measure changes in behavior over time. The measurement strategy discussed here incorporates both an ethnographic narrative analysis and a time series social network chart analysis (i.e., Time 1 and Time 2). This method of measurement and analysis can visually highlight the relationships of individuals within the egocentric social networks of at-risk youth, and, through detailed ethnographic narratives, explain how the capitalization and utilization of the social capital embedded within these networks facilitates either pro-social or anti-social behavior over the early adolescence life-course.

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Updated 05/20/2006