Development Of The Criminal Social Identity Essay Example
Development Of The Criminal Social Identity Essay Example

Development Of The Criminal Social Identity Essay Example

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The Nature and Processes Involved in the Development of the Criminal Social Identity


This thesis incorporates constructs from societal individuality and self classification theories, and elaborates on Emler and Reicher 's theory of delinquency as repute direction. It argues that self-categorization procedures are involved in the formation of the delinquent group. In other words, the procedure of self-categorization leads to the development of the delinquent societal individuality, whose saliency is influenced by context or situational factors, such that societal attractive force, coherence, societal influence and repute concerns take topographic point among members sharing this group rank. Relationships among group members so operate on an intragroup instead than interpersonal footing. This increases the inclination towards delinquent behavior.

The development of the condemnable societal individuality


Festinger 's ( 1954 ) societal comparing theory has as one of its basic premises that people are motivated towards uncertainness decrease and a sense of consistence, which drives them to compare with similar others. The period of adolescence is one when young persons are, in the position of developmental psychologists such as Erikson ( 1968 ) , Marcia ( 1967 ) , and Waterman ( 1985 ) , in the procedure of individuality formation during which peer relationships play an of import function. Therefore, the demand for societal comparing tends to be more acute during adolescence, where equal influence plays a important function in the stripling 's individuality development. This period is besides one when a great trade of striplings ' clip is engaged in school activities, and where academic public presentation has important relevancy to self-pride ( Purkey, 1970 ) . Goethals and Darley ( 1987 ) maintain that the school environment is

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one that encourages intense societal comparing, particularly in footings of academic accomplishment.

Emler and Reicher 's ( 1995 ) theory, nevertheless, topographic points greater accent on the orientation towards authorization. Nevertheless, both academic public presentation every bit good as normative behavior in schools constitute major dimensions of societal comparing. Such comparing procedures involve societal classification, as the two are inextricably linked, and have branchings for the self-concept ( Turner, 1985 ) . Self-categorization 's metacontrast rule explains how striplings who make these comparings achieve their group individuality ( Turner, et Al. 1987 ) . This is dependent on`` the grade that two or more people come to comprehend and specify themselves in footings of some shared ingroup-outgroup classification '' .

Hence, harmonizing to self-categorization theory, it is the sensed comparative similarities and differences that result in designation and psychological group formation. Group rank is `` psychological '' in the sense that the societal individuality of the striplings, incorporated into the striplings ' self-concept, can go salient without the physical presence of members of the group. As a consequence of societal comparing and classification procedures, two groups are differentiated within the higher degree class of the pupil individuality: the successful and the failures when the dimension of comparing is academic ability, and the conforming and the non conforming, when the dimension of comparing is attitudes towards authorization.

There is sufficient empirical grounds ( e.g. Lynam, et Al. 1993 ; Tremblay, et Al. 1992 ; Zingraff et Al. 1994 ) demoing the relationship between academic ability and delinquent behavior, such that those who are academically successful tend to be the more conformist, as contrasted to those who are academically weak,

who are besides the more aberrant in footings of attitude towards authorization and behavior. Non conforming pupils and those who perform ill in school would comprehend one another to be less different from each other than from others who are successful and less non conforming. Although there is grounds of a mutual relationship between academic public presentation and delinquent behavior, this thesis is in favor of the position that hapless academic public presentation has a greater impact on self- regard, and more frequently leads to non conformance than vice-versa for two grounds.

First, it can be argued that an stripling 's academic public presentation has higher personal relevancy to his or her individuality as a pupil than behavior, and as such, has a higher emotional impact as a consequence of societal comparing procedures. In other words, negative societal comparing in footings of academic ability would hold greater effects in footings of self-pride, and societal position in the school is more likely to be structured on this footing than on that of behavior, particularly in schools that stream pupils harmonizing to their academic ability.

Second, behavior is extremely context-dependent, and as Emler and Reicher ( 1995 ) noted in their interviews, striplings are motivated to maintain the societal universes of their household and the school separate. Unless reported by the school governments, their non conforming behavior is non likely to be apparent to members of their household, unlike school classs. However, their public presentation in school is likely to be known to the household through periodic appraisals. Therefore, this augments their already negative individuality non merely in the school environment but besides within the household. Hazelwood 's survey

( 1989 ) demonstrates a relationship between low ability ( academic consequences below the 25th percentile ) and appendage in negative attitudes towards school, motive towards lessons, school activities and desirableness of businesss. High ability pupils, on the other manus, were found to take more conservative or cautious responses. Consequences were replicated 18 months subsequently, utilizing classs obtained at the General Certificate of Education scrutinies. Extreme or terrible judgements of the comparatively more successful out-group consequence in a rejection of their norms, so that what had been considered inconsistent becomes redefined as consistent harmonizing to the new norms of the newly-formed in-group. The individuality of this new group is therefore based on `` what is non '' instead than what is, thereby taking opposite features because there are no feasible options available ( Cohen, 1955 ) .

Rejection is hence one agencies of accomplishing self-consistency and self-enhancement, and positive peculiarity is achieved by doing what was once considered negative positive. ( Further inside informations sing this procedure are given in the undermentioned subdivision. ) The more successful group of pupils, under certain fortunes where their societal individuality is outstanding, can be expected to place themselves as members of a group. Their group designation, which is influenced by higher position and greater impermeableness of group boundaries ( Ellemers, 1993 ) and which serves a socially protective map, is likely to go outstanding merely under menace.

On the other manus, the group designation of the failures and non conforming pupils is likely to be facilitated by the low position, high stableness and perceived impermeable boundaries of the group ( Ellemers, 1993 ) . For these pupils, there is small

likeliness of traveling to a higher position group, as this is mostly determined by single academic ability and intelligence, which is comparatively stable. Over clip, group boundaries are likely to go impermeable, one time members of both groups are categorized and labelled, and rejected by each other. The failures and non conforming group would be more likely to demo out-group favoritism. Mummendey and Schreiber ( 1983 ) confirm that out-group favoritism occurs when the group is merely able to accomplish positive ratings at the disbursal of the out-group. The designation of the failures and non conforming pupils as a group has a cognitive footing, but more significantly, fulfils the emotional map of supplying its members with an alternate societal individuality and a more positive sense of self-pride, as postulated by societal individuality theory.

Positive peculiarity of the condemnable societal individuality

On a personal degree, the pupils who have failed in school and are non conforming would comprehend themselves as more inconsistent in footings of their `` higher '' degree individuality as pupils. They therefore see a sense of disagreement between their existent and ideal egos ( Higgins, 1987 ) which would go forth them with a sense of agitation or depression. This concurs with the position of the strain theoreticians ( Agnew, 1993 ) that the inability to accomplish ends ( particularly good school classs ) consequences in defeat and choler.

These negative feelings of self-derogation, defeat and choler every bit good as green-eyed monster, bitterness and ill will ( Crosby, 1976 ; Salovey and Rodin, 1984 ) may be exacerbated by household factors, such as the deficiency of heat, parental rejection and a coercive parenting manner (

Patterson, et Al. 1989 ; Simon, et Al. 1991 ; Shaw and Scott, 1991 ) . The deficiency of parental heat and fondness can suppress the development of empathy and guilt ( Baumeister, et Al. 1994 ) , farther distancing striplings from their parents, interrupting the bonds of societal control ( Hirschi, 1969 ) and cut downing any motive to endeavor for academic success or to conform to the authorization of the school.

Therefore, these striplings suffer from a negative individuality. In fact, the survey of adolescent school groups by Downs and Rose ( 1991 ) found that one of the four classs of these equal groups is aberrant in footings of uninvolvement with school activities and non conforming behaviors. Members of this group are rejected by the other pupils and manifest more psychosocial jobs than pupils from the other three groups. Self- esteem steps are besides found to be lower. The literature on equal relationships ( Parker and Asher, 1987 ; Juvonen, 1991 ) has shown that the serious effects of rejection are low self-esteem, the development of aggressive inclinations, a higher hazard of dropping out of school and delinquent behaviors. Rejection by others, whether existent or perceived, is one specifying feature that forms another footing for classification into groups which reciprocally reject one another. In other words, rejection can be both the cause every bit good as merchandise of self- classification.

Therefore, the negative individuality that is the consequence of being self-discrepant or inconsistent, pertains non merely to single pupils who systematically obtain hapless classs in school and are non conforming in their attitudes and behavior, but applies as a whole to members of a

group, who besides face the job of a lower societal position in school compared to the group of successful and conformist pupils.

The individualistic steps suggested by societal comparing theory to accomplish consistence or heighten self-esteem, and some of the group measures offered by societal individuality theory, are non effectual for those who are antique tremely inconsistent in footings of academic public presentation and societal relationships. Social comparing research workers ( Salovey and Rodin, 1988 ; Tesser, 1991 ) reference several schemes for self-enhancement when faced with negative ratings, viz. , to change self-definition and cut down the relevancy of the dimensions under comparing, to minimize those who are successful, to avoid comparing and to alter norms.

However, these schemes fail to see the importance of one 's societal individuality and do non explicate how those who fail to populate up to normative outlooks can accomplish a sense of self-consistency. This can merely be possible within a group, or within a societal individuality which, as a group, rejects the norms and reformulates new 1s. What is required is hence a group scheme, where self-consistency is attained by being consistent with one 's societal individuality. This is a point stressed by Emler and Hopkins in their 1990 paper on repute, societal individuality and the ego.

Two of the schemes mentioned in societal individuality theory as `` societal alteration '' are a alteration of group rank and societal competition. ( Tajfel and Turner, 1979, 1986 ) . For persons who fail to detect the expected norms on several dimensions ( i.e. where the overall consequence of multiple and assorted comparings are linear instead than compensatory, Masters and Keil, 1987 )

, neither of these options are executable. A alteration of rank from one group to another would non be effectual because of the high likeliness that the person would besides be inconsistent with the new group.

Social competition would be appropriate merely when the possibility of success is greater than that of failure. In the instance of a group of these academically hapless members, the latter is more likely than the former. In the procedure of placing with one another and organizing a subgroup within the higher degree societal individuality of `` pupil '' , these non conforming and less successful striplings follow the scheme of `` societal creativeness '' and accomplish, harmonizing to societal individuality theory, a sense of heightened self-pride ( Oakes and Turner, 1980 ; Lemrye and Smith, 1985 ) through their positive peculiarity. This positive peculiarity is characterized by rejection and the really reversal of conventional norms, such that what is considered positive and valued conventionally is redefined as negative and derogated, and vice-versa ( Cohen, 1955 ) . Hence, their non conforming behaviors, characterized by aggressiveness would be seen as a desirable trait. Social competition so takes topographic point on the new dimensions, manifested in Acts of the Apostless of aggression against members of rival packs. In Breakwell 's ( 1986 ) survey of threatened individualities, she concurs with this analysis:

`` Peoples can defy the socialization force per unit areas which tie negative assessments to the individuality features, nevertheless. Sometimes they cope with the menace by declining to accept that the feature should be deemed worthless or take downing. They can exert liberty in transfusing the feature with some positive intension.

To make this as a lone person is hard. The re-evaluation remains idiosyncratic and strictly subjective. An alternate scheme would be to carry others to fall in the re- rating. '' ( p. 105 )

Designation produces common consensus among members who have likewise as a group, rejected conventional norms. This has the consequence of uncertainness decrease as McGarty and his co-workers ( McGarty et al. 1993 ) have demonstrated, and is likely to be one beginning of self- sweetening found in the research of Kaplan and his co-workers ( Kaplan, 1978, 1980 ; Kaplan et al. 1986, 1987 ) . Hence, this group of striplings can prosecute in delinquent behaviors without a sense of self-derogation ( Fischer and Bersani, 1979 ) , in contrast to those who maintain strong ties with the household and the school, who suffer from low self-esteem after perpetrating delinquent Acts of the Apostless ( McCarthy and Hoge, 1984 ) Anthropological grounds, supports this construct of individuality formation through rejection and repute. Campbell 's survey ( Campbell, 1987 ) of female Puerto Rican pack members which focused on societal individuality revealed that the pack ranks of these misss are manifestations of a jilted individuality. She reports that these misss

`` See themselves as different from their equals. Their association with the pack is a public announcement of their rejection of the life style which the community expects from them '' . ( pp.463, 464 )

Their individuality or self-image is derived through the procedure of putting-down others. Therefore, they are specifying themselves by ascription of features of what they are non to others. Hence, their self-image is constructed by default and rejection, and

their new norms are the antonym of the conventional. In other words, these norms are needfully delinquent. Campbells ' survey besides lends support to Emler and Reicher 's ( 1995 ) accent on the importance of repute direction in delinquency. The development of such groups or collectivities in Cohen 's ( 1990 ) footings, has been described in his 1955 book on delinquent male childs, and is documented as portion of the subcultural theory of delinquency. This has been presented in Chapter Two. Once the delinquent societal individuality with these reversed norms becomes established, members so achieve a sense of self-consistency by a manifestation of their new individuality in footings of delinquent behaviors. Breakwell ( 1986 ) explains the relationship between individuality and behavior, that `` action is the societal look of individuality. The lone path of entree to the individuality of another is through his or her action, whether verbal or non. Since individuality comprises emotions, beliefs, and attitudes it is a premier incentive of action. Identity directs action. ''

The conventional group is derogated and devalued, and no longer maps as an of import comparing mark Social comparings excessively, take topographic point on different dimensions. Battles take topographic point between rival delinquent groups to set up which groups are tougher because stamina becomes the freshly valued property, which is come-at-able. Care of this self-consistency becomes a affair of reputational concern and direction ( Emler, 1990 ; Emler and Reicher, 1995 ) . Emler and Reicher uphold that delinquent behaviors are consistent because one time a delinquent repute has been established, behaviors tend to go stable. A theoretical account of delinquency as a merchandise of

societal comparing procedures and group designation proposed by this thesis is summarized and presented in Figure 7.1.

The procedures involved in classification, group formation and designation which leads to the development of the delinquent societal individuality are summarized in Figure 7.2.

Context-dependent nature of condemnable individualities

The situational theory of delinquency ( Sykes and Matza, 1957 ; Matza, 1964 ) postulates that delinquents tend to float in and out of non conforming behavior ( Chapter Two, Section 2.13 ) . Under certain fortunes, striplings can be expected to detect conventional norms, but non when they are in the company of the equal group which encourages delinquent behavior. Harmonizing to this theory, the techniques of neutralisation are used by these striplings to apologize their behaviors so as to decrease feelings of guilt or shame. However, Matza and Sykes have non provided an account of why or how equals encourage or influence delinquent behavior. This is left to self-categorization theory 's construct of `` depersonalization '' and saliency ( Turner, 1985 ; Oakes, 1987 ) . Delinquent behaviors are manifested merely when the delinquent individuality is outstanding.

In the committedness of delinquent Acts of the Apostless, members act as interchangeable units of a collectivity ( Cohen, 1990 ) . Any abuse or hurt inflicted upon one member is perceived to be inflicted upon all members likewise who portion that individuality. Adolescents can be expected to be more delinquent in the company of similar in-group others and in the presence of an out-group, although the physical presence is non necessary for saliency to happen. What matters is the psychological designation with the in-group, vis-a-vis the out-group, which may be the group of

conforming pupils such as the prefects of the school, or another rival delinquent group that threatens the group 's positive peculiarity or poses a challenge to its position. Therefore, it follows that striplings in their personal individuality as members of their household can be expected to hold less anti-authority attitudes than when they are in the societal individuality as delinquents among delinquent in-group members. Degrees of shame and guilt, and self-pride can besides be expected to be different under different societal contexts. Social individuality and self-categorization theories offer a different reading of Braithwaite 's ( 1989 ) construct of mutuality and reintegration. Braithwaite defines mutuality as`` the extent to which persons participate in webs wherein they are dependent on others to accomplish valued terminals and others are dependent on them '' .

Braithwaite 's theory of reintegrative shaming in fact references issues of personal and societal individualities and portions certain similarities with societal individuality and self-categorization theories every bit good as Emler and Reicher 's ( 1995 ) theory of delinquency as repute direction. However, the societal individuality and self-categorization position takes the construct of mutuality beyond the societal coherence theoretical account to one of societal designation.

One experiences shame because one has non been consistent as a member of one 's societal individuality. Shame is therefore experienced within the context of one 's societal individuality and among one 's in-group members with whom one portions, in Braithwaite 's footings, an `` mutuality '' , or in the footings of self-categorization theory, an `` exchangeability '' . Thus, striplings who commit a offense but still keep some respect for their parents or instructors or schoolmates, in other

words, retain some step of designation with them, can be shamed to the extent of non desiring to perpetrate the offense once more.

Consistency within their household societal individuality can be re-established, and forgiveness and damages are possible here However, jobs would originate when stigmatisation has occurred to the extent of grounding striplings in their aberrant individuality such that they do non value their relationship with a group which is no longer perceived as the in-group.

The delinquency literature includes abundant histories of the part to delinquency of hapless relationships with the household and the school which has been presented in Chapter Two. Following societal control theory, these striplings, holding diminished ties with the household and the school, no longer see them to be of import or relevant. What has become of import to these striplings is their sense of consistence or repute in their new delinquent societal individuality. Under such fortunes, dishonoring in the presence of household members or schoolmates and classmates or instructors may hold small impact.

Following Cohen 's sub cultural theory, what was considered to be black has now been redefined as something to be proud of when the delinquent societal individuality is outstanding. Braithwaite 's programme of reintegrative dishonoring which involves dishonoring conferences where the wrongdoers meet victims in the presence of people who have valued relationships with the wrongdoers, has been shown to be effectual ( Abjorensen, 1995 ; `` Jail fails '' , 1995 ; Lim, 1996 ) . This has been attributed to the fact that the delinquents have been shamed in the presence of people with whom they portion an `` mutuality '' .

Reintegration in the shaming conferences may

be effectual because in the societal environment of a dishonoring conference, interactions may run at both the interpersonal and intergroup degrees. The delinquent 's household societal individuality is made salient by the presence of others who are non household members, and within the household, interpersonal relationships are strengthened to the extent that parents are no longer perceived in their parental functions of autocratic grownups, and the stripling does non hold a sense of designation with other delinquents. Reintegration besides offers an option for a positive individuality.

Furthermore, the procedure of shaming, which involves guilt-induction instead than humiliation, shifts the focal point from the ego to the victim ( Tangney et al. 1992 ) , farther defines the state of affairs in an interpersonal context, even if other delinquent members are present. In other words, the interpersonal context disintegrates the sense of coherence and societal influence that operates when the delinquent societal individuality is outstanding.

Social influence and coherence among delinquent groups

Once the delinquent societal individuality becomes outstanding, members can be expected to exhibit behaviors that are archetypal of the group norm and may vie with other in-group members to show their conformance ( Turner, 1982 ) . Manifestations of over-conformity to delinquent norms and behaviors would so be encouraged and positively reinforced by other in-group members, taking to an escalation of delinquent behaviors, or a transmutation of non conforming non delinquent Acts of the Apostless to delinquent 1s. Therefore, the members of the delinquent group need non prosecute in persuasion or effort to influence others to hold anti-social values or commit delinquent Acts of the Apostless.

Social influence maps through the procedure of designation and self-categorization as a

member of the delinquent group. The research of Klein and Crawford ( 1968 ) and that of Pabon and his co-workers ( 1992 ) sing the nature of relationships among members of the delinquent group demonstrates the saliency and nature of the delinquent societal individuality as described by self-categorization theory. It is this that provides the delinquent group members with a sense of belongingness, which is an intergroup instead than interpersonal characteristic. Klein and Crawford found that the coherence of the pack is due to external instead than internal factors, and Pabon and his co-workers demonstrated in their survey that in footings of intimate relationships, members lack familiarity and fondness.

Self-categorization theory helps to explicate the findings of Thornberry et Al. ( 1993 ) which demonstrate that when the delinquents are in a pack, they are more delinquent. The saliency of the delinquent societal individuality polarizes the in-group norm such that behaviors tend towards the archetypal. Delinquent behaviors are therefore both facilitated and enhanced by the saliency of the delinquent individuality. As Hogg and Turner ( 1987 ) have noted, the presence of an out-group may non be necessary for the individuality to be outstanding, as the sentiments non held by in-group members could be considered as that of an inexplicit out-group.


The theoretical account of this thesis integrates the chief theoretical model in delinquency research with constructs in societal individuality and self- classification theories. The three issues of the procedures involved in the development of a negative individuality, the function of the equal group in easing delinquent behavior, and the nature of the delinquent societal individuality are addressed.

The thesis proposes that adolescents become delinquents because of

a relentless negative individuality, which has its roots in societal comparing procedures. Negative societal comparings in the school, based chiefly on academic public presentation, and exacerbated by factors in dysfunctional households result in feelings of green-eyed monster, defeat, choler, shame, guilt, self- disparagement and ill will.

These antecedent constituents that contribute to the negative individuality have been explained by strain and societal control theories. Perceived differences that result from societal comparings lead to the recategorization of the pupil individuality into two groups of pupils: those who are consistent and successful, and those who are inconsistent and are failures. The designation of latter as a group in contrast to the former explains the differential association of delinquents, and the intrenchment of the delinquent equal group as a subculture. Rejection and labelling procedures which are stigmatising brand boundaries between the two groups impermeable, such that the low societal position of the inconsistent group remains stable.

Membership in the delinquent equal group and the delinquent societal individuality is the lone option that allows the delinquents some step of self-esteem as members of a group. Its positive peculiarity is defined through the reversal of conventional norms, which become needfully delinquent. In making so, members achieve a sense of self-consistency, which becomes entrenched as repute. The changing saliency of the delinquent societal individuality explains Matza 's construct of impetus, and reconciles the evident contradiction between the theories of Sykes and Matza, and Cohen. It besides explains the nature of relationships among members of the delinquent group, that though it is characterized by a deficiency of familiarity or fondness, there is a strong sense of belongingness.

The theoretical account suggests an antique planation for

the gender and age derived function in delinquency ; why rates tend to top out about 14 to 15 old ages, and why more males tend to perpetrate delinquent Acts of the Apostless compared to females, as noted by Emler and Reicher, ( 1995 ) every bit good as Braithwaite ( 1989 ) . At the age of 14, most striplings would hold completed two old ages of high school instruction, and would be instead certain of their ain academic abilities, every bit good as the likeliness of future successes or failures. Their individuality as a pupil, which may be either positive or negative, would hold been comparatively stable at this phase of adolescence. Hence, those with a negative individuality would be more likely to take a group instead than single scheme of get bying. In other words, younger striplings would still be in the procedure of seeking to get by utilizing single schemes other than `` societal creativeness '' .

Emler and Reicher ( 1995 ) noted besides that rates of delinquency autumn after pupils leave the school. They ground that this could be due to the diminishing likeliness that pupils will be in the company of others as a group. Another possibility for the autumn in rates could be due to striplings holding another avenue of positive individuality being opened to them in the signifier of employment or vocational instruction outside the school. These can be considered single schemes of accomplishing higher position or interpersonal respect. In fact, in Singapore, the per centum of pack members in the Institute of Technical Education and the Polytechnics constitutes merely 7.6 % compared to 92.4 % in

the secondary schools ( Singapore Police Force, 1996 ) .

Emler and Reicher ( 1995 ) argue that misss are less inclined towards anti-authority attitudes and behavior because of feminine sex functions compared to boys, and this explains the lower rates of delinquency among females. Another ground could be that misss who fail in school have another positive option of being a housewife which is non available as a feasible function for male childs.

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