Cohen, Albert K.: Delinquent Boys
Albert K. Cohen's Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang offered a theoretical explanation for delinquency gangs in the United States. Cohen explained the existence of gangs and why boys join them. He argued that working-class boys join gangs because gangs provide a sense of status or self-esteem that would otherwise be unavailable to them in a society dominated by middle-class values. As a delinquent subculture, the gang is a solution to problems of adjustment encountered by working-class boys. Of course, theories exist in a context; they reflect their time. This entry discusses that context and elaborates on the criminological theory that Cohen offered in Delinquent Boys. In the mid-20th century when Cohen was a student, criminologists were interested in theories of crime and delinquency. They tried to explain why people committed crime and how such acts were distributed across various segments of society. There were many explanations, but two ...