One of the Gang: Concerning the Theoretical Salience of Identity Work in Explaining Peer-Associated Ofending

C. William Hall, North Carolina State University

Research on peer association and offending reveals that the presence of delinquent peers is positively correlated with an increased risk in delinquent behavior of individuals. With the exception of research on competing hypotheses between strain/control theories and those of differential association and/or social learning theories, as well as research on issues of identity within delinquent peer networks, the particular mechanisms which could account for such behavior remain largely unexplored. Specifically, this paper seeks to lay a theoretical foundation for the inclusion of the social psychological concept of identity work as a means to explain micro-interactions that occur within delinquent peer groups. Extending the concept of identity work to current theory is discussed, and possible avenues for research are presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006