A Review of "Reconsidering Peers and Delinquency: How Do Peers Matter

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The article “Reconsidering Peers and Delinquency: How Do Peers Matter?” by Haynie and Osgood (2005) attempts to explain how the relationship among peers contributes to delinquency. The study was instigated to cover weaknesses and deficits of the previous studies that did not fully address delinquency in peers. The paper will present a review of the entire research publication analyzing it in detail step by step.

The main topic of the study was to analyze the how peer relations leads to delinquency with a focus on two approaches, which are the influence of socialization and opportunity. The study was founded on the research question that was deemed to establish the extent to which the peers matter to delinquency. Earlier studies had overlooked an independent analysis as they overestimated the socialization influence by selecting peers with similar behaviors to those studied (Haynie & Osgood, 2005). The main topics of study were to identify the extent to which normative influence was a contributor to delinquency, finding out how other factors to delinquency are influenced by peer delinquency and how normative influence was contingent to peer relationships. The study had two main theoretical orientations, which were interpersonal relations and the social-ecological approach. Interpersonal relationships are said to cause some behaviors to be picked from the people one interacts with in life. According to the social-ecological approach, interpersonal relations are part of a social standing that defines the angle of social life thus creating an opportunity for some behaviors to be adopted or dropped (Haynie, & Osgood, 2005).

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Previous studies have had mixed reactions where some assert that delinquency is associated with normative influence while others argue that it is a result of the choices made to determine the peers to relate with in life. The literature review focused on analyzing what previous researches concluded on how peers acted as a result of normative influence, issues that came out in the assessment of normative influence, and how peers impacted the behaviors of individuals. The theoretical framework in the previous studies included a review of the symbolic interactionism, the reference group, and social learning theories (Haynie, & Osgood, 2005). This study was based on two theories, namely the socialization and opportunity theories. Under socialization theory, three hypothesis were deduced with the primary one being that adolescents who associated with friends who are delinquent will be in a more delinquent behavior, even if their selection process was controlled. The other hypothesis was that peer delinquency could mediate other variables associated with delinquency.

The last hypothesis was the association of adolescents to peer delinquency is strong when adolescents are more connected to peers. The opportunity theory gave out two hypothesis where one of it was that adolescent who spends a lot of their time away from authorities would be delinquent even when they control peer delinquency. The second was that delinquency was more strongly related to the time spent in unstructured socialization. The dependent variable was peer delinquency while the independent variable was peer relations. The study had control variables which were the demographic characteristics and social control variables. These variables were measured on a scale, with the dependent being subjected to a scale of 0-3 with some responses rated on a scale of 0-5 while the peer delinquency used alpha as a measure (Haynie, & Osgood, 2005). The control variables used a 1 or 0 choice while the social control variables used a scale of 0-5. The study relied on data from Add Health Survey that provided data for adolescents from grade 7 to 12 while interviews were also conducted in schools and in homes at two different times to get first-hand data from the peers’ behaviors. The population of interest was 8,838 respondents, but during the analysis of data, a sample of 2274 responses was used (Haynie, & Osgood, 2005). The response rate was 78. 9 % in the first wave and 88. 2% in the second wave.

Probabilistic sampling methods used include systematic sampling techniques and implicit stratification that gave representative sampling across US schools that were classified by area, type of school, ethnic composition, and the extent of urbanity. The findings of the study confirmed that there exists a sophisticated understanding of delinquency as it seemed to stem from various processes. In general, it was found that relations with peers have a close relationship with delinquency. It was found that adolescents who associated with delinquent peers were more offending even when involved in unstructured social groups with friends (Haynie & Osgood, 2005). The results of the study also confirmed that normative influence on delinquency is limited more than it was indicated in the studies conducted there before. Additionally, the findings concluded that the normative influence could not elevate by the mere fact of closely relating to friends more.

Further, opportunity and normative influence were independent but equally essential. Lastly, it was concluded that association with peers does not mediate the influence of age, gender, and family. The research was limited to the methodology used by previous studies that made this study to exempt use of social control just as previous studies. The validity of some of the methods used in the study is questioned. For example, dividing the square root of the number of friends compromised the summation across friends (Haynie, & Osgood, 2005). The study also suffered from the sampling limitation in Add Health data as it focused on the saturation sample. The adolescents were limited to 10 nominations of friends and the adolescents’ friends who were not scholars and were not included in the study. In sum, the conduct of this research was a good breakthrough in assessing how the relationship with peers led to delinquency and it addressed some weaknesses portrayed by previous studies. The research was conducted effectively right from selection of the topic, literature and theoretical framework, to designing of research questions, objectives and hypothesis. The data was collected effectively after the application of sampling techniques, analyzed and findings put forth from the analyzed data.

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