Legal Socialization and Delinquency

Tom R. Tyler and Lindsay E. Rankin

in The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385106
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Legal Socialization and Delinquency

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
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  • Theories of Crime


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The current instrumental approach of legal authority focuses on the power of legal authorities and institutions to shape behavior by threatening to deliver negative sanctions for rule breaking. This article discusses public attitudes and considers how these views have led to an instrumental approach to motivating lawful behavior, as this strategy is costly and results in negative side effects. Following this, the article explores the alternatives that are possible. In this regard, it points to a series of findings that suggest the importance of focusing on values, an approach which has the goal of enhancing self-regulation. Finally, it states that policy changes related to rehabilitation face more resistance from the public and discusses the nature of the public opinion that policy makers must confront when seeking to make policy changes.

Keywords: legal socialization; delinquency; legal authority; self-regulation; policy changes; rehabilitation

Article.  9860 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice ; Theories of Crime

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