Delinquency in Three Cultures

By Carl M. Rosenquist; Edwin I. Megargee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
THE OFFENSES TEST

Juvenile delinquency is behavior that deviates from the norms and values prescribed by society. How are such deviant habits learned and maintained in the face of all the efforts of society to transmit approved values through the schools and churches and to stamp out deviance through the police and courts? Some deviance can be attributed to stupidity or psychological aberrations, but much delinquent behavior occurs in apparently normal young people who seem to have values different from those held by most members of society. To account for the development and transmission of such deviant mores, sociologists have postulated the existence of criminal subcultures whose values and norms conflict with those of the overall society; they have disagreed, however, on the nature of the forces that shape and create such delinquent subcultures.

Surveying the field of delinquency, it is possible to discriminate two types of deviant subcultures, those we might call "exogenous" and those we can term "indigenous." The exogenous subculture comes when, as a result of immigration between nations or regions within a nation, people who have been raised with one set of values find themselves in a society with a different set of values. Some years ago such exogenous subcultures were seen as a major cause of crime. Research has indicated, however, that most immigrant groups have a lower crime rate than the native United States population. For example, Sutherland and Cressey ( 1966, p. 152) report that the arrest and imprisonment rate for native-born white Americans is about twice the rate for foreign-born whites. While the foreign

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