Sociology Adolescence
Melissa R. Herman
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0002


The sociology of adolescence focuses on biological, social, economic, and psychological development of youth during the period between childhood and adulthood. In this period, typical youth undergo puberty, consolidate cognitive reasoning abilities, and attain majority status and social privileges. Most youths complete their education, undergo cultural rites of passage, develop economic and emotional independence from parents, and develop the capacity for intimacy with peers. Developmental sociologists examine these changes in the contexts of home, family, peer group, school, neighborhood, work, houses of worship, and extracurricular activities. Although the field has much in common with the psychological study of adolescence, developmental sociology focuses more on the institutions in which adolescents develop: from whole societies to ethnic groups, from schools to homeless shelters, and from baseball fields to gang turf.

Classic Works

Although Erik Erikson was a clinical psychologist, sociologists consider Erikson 1959 and Erikson 1968 to be important introductory works on adolescence, along with Hall 1904. The first sociologist to give great attention to adolescents was James Coleman, who broadened the focus from individuals to social groups in schools (Coleman 1961). Coleman’s later work on educational inequality, and public policy recommendations for reducing it, were also significant (Coleman 1966). Bronfenbrenner 2005 is based in psychology, but the theory is appealing to scholars of all disciplines, including ecology, sociology, and human development.

  • Bronfenbrenner, Urie. 2005. Making human beings human: Biological perspectives on human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Collecting six decades of Bronfenbrenner’s work on human development, this book focuses on the process of development. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory argues that humans develop in an integrated multilevel system of contexts: a biological organism (human) is shaped by interaction with its social/physical setting. Bronfenbrenner concentrates on interactions between different social spheres rather than individual relationships.

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  • Coleman, James S. 1961. Adolescent society: The social life of the teenager and its impact on education. New York: Free Press.

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    A controversial book arguing that teenagers are a social group unto themselves, different from children and adults in their interests and values. Coleman claims that young people value athletic prowess rather than academic achievement, and that they have unrealistic expectations for their future careers. The book’s arguments have been debated and found to be overgeneralizations that miss important differentiating details.

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    • Coleman, James S. 1966. Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

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      This national survey report describes the sources and extent of educational inequality, finding that the disparity in resources (funding) between schools contributed minimally to achievement disparities. Student body’s socioeconomic and ethnic makeup, followed by teacher quality, was highly associated with achievement. Though Coleman advocated school integration at the time, his observations of integration through busing, and the white flight that resulted, made him reconsider this position.

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      • Erikson, Erik H. 1959. Identity and the life cycle. New York: W. W. Norton.

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        This book includes three papers on identity development. One collects Erikson’s observations of children over time, both in the clinic and on field trips outside; the second paper examines the whole life cycle; the last deals with what Erikson called the central task of adolescence: developing an ego identity.

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        • Erikson, Erik H. 1968. Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.

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          Erikson argues that each age has a different psychosocial crisis or challenge that the individual must resolve. These crises are normative, and they may be repeated. The adolescent crisis is called “identity formation”: adolescents must make a series of ever-narrowing decisions on personal, occupational, sexual, and ideological commitments to a particular identity.

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          • Hall, G. Stanley. 1904. Adolescence: Its psychology and its relations to physiology, anthropology, sociology, sex, crime, religion and education. New York: Appleton.

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            Based on the German idea of Sturm und Drang, Hall argued that adolescence was a stormy and stressful period of life for humans, as evidenced by moodiness, risk-taking behavior, and conflict with adults (particularly parents). This book is particularly concerned with gender roles, coeducation, and what constitutes appropriate information and experiences for adolescents.

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            The study of adolescence is considered part of the sociology of children, childhood, and youth. Courses in this area are often called “Youth and Society” or “Childhood and Society”; few departments have separate courses for the sociology of children and the sociology of adolescence. Psychology departments are more likely to have these distinct curricula, so scholars looking for textbooks will be rewarded by searching beyond the confines of sociology. Steinberg 2010 is a good example of a psychology textbook (complete with definitions, sidebars, photographs, and a comprehensive literature review) with an interdisciplinary perspective on adolescent development. Boocock and Scott 2005 is less a textbook and is written by and for sociology students. It is qualitative and focuses on integrating monographs rather than journal articles. Wyness 2006 represents the British sociological perspective, with particular attention to children’s rights. Muuss 1996 is the most recent edition of a book covering all the major theories of adolescence from a psychological perspective. Originally published in 1965, it remains an important introduction to the theories. Kroger 2007 tackles the central concept of identity in adolescence. Feldman and Elliott 1990 is old, but much of the work is still relevant. The edited volume gives a well-rounded introduction to all the major topics in adolescent research. Borman and Schneider 1998 offers the sociological perspective on how school shapes adolescent development, and Settersten and Furstenberg 2005 situates adolescence in the life-course literature.

            • Boocock, Sarane S., and Kimberly Ann Scott. 2005. Kids in context: The sociological study of children and childhoods. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

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              Offers an excellent undergraduate introduction to the sociological study of children, including methodology, historical perspectives, and current state of the field.

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            • Borman, Kathryn, and Barbara Schneider, eds. 1998. The adolescent years: Social influences and educational challenges. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              These editors assembled a star-studded roster of sociologists and education scholars to consider adolescence as a “dynamic of social construction.” The chapter authors examine changes in social contexts such as school, family, community institutions, peer groups, and workplaces, showing how these contexts affect social and cognitive development.

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            • Feldman, S. Shirley, and Glen R. Elliott. 1990. At the threshold: The developing adolescent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              This 1990 edited volume is still a good primer for basic research on adolescence. Mostly written by developmental psychologists, it nonetheless takes an interdisciplinary view of adolescence, with particularly informative chapters on minority adolescent development.

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            • Kroger, Jane. 2007. Identity development: Adolescence through adulthood. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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              Identity development is the central task of adolescence, and Jane Kroger is an intellectual leader in this subfield. She provides theoretical and historical introductions to identity, followed by a breakdown of the biological, psychological, and social processes through which humans go. She also covers identity development for youth with atypical identity crises, such as adoption, parental unemployment, and minority ethnicity.

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            • Muuss, Rolf E. 1996. Theories of adolescence. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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              This psychology text describes all the major theories of adolescence from medieval views of human development through Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, James Marcia, Margaret Mead, Kurt Lewin, Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, and Urie Bronfenbrenner.

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            • Settersten, Richard A., Jr., and Frank F. Furstenberg. 2005. On the frontier of adulthood: Theory, research and public policy. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              This sociology text tackles the lengthening gap between the end of adolescence and the beginning of truly independent adulthood in American society, showing how many young people now stretch adolescence out into their thirties with extended education, job searches, romantic and social exploration, and other forms of personal development.

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            • Steinberg, Laurence. 2010. Adolescence. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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              Written by a developmental psychologist and president of the interdisciplinary Society for Research on Adolescence, this textbook takes a broad social-science approach to adolescence. This comprehensive textbook includes chapters on biological, cognitive, and social transitions; school, family, peer group, and work/leisure contexts; and identity, autonomy, intimacy, and sexual development.

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            • Wyness, Michael. 2006. Childhood and society: An introduction to the sociology of childhood. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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              Offers a British perspective on the sociology of childhood, theory of childhood, children’s rights, and childhood as a social problem.

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            There appear to be no handbooks of the sociology of adolescence, so there is a good opportunity for someone who wants to edit one. However, there are two good handbooks on the psychology of adolescence, Lerner and Steinberg 2009, and Adams and Berzonsky 2003, which cover some of the areas sociologists find interesting.

            • Adams, Gerald R., and Michael D. Berzonsky. 2003. Blackwell handbook of adolescence. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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              Traditional edited volume of psychological perspectives on adolescent development, with sections on biological processes, contexts, relationships, and problem behaviors.

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            • Lerner, Richard, and Laurence Steinberg. 2009. Handbook of adolescent psychology, volume II: Contextual influences on adolescent development. Boston: Wiley.

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              The first volume of this work focuses on individual bases of adolescent development; volume 2 is most relevant for sociologists. See particularly the chapters on the broader context of adolescence, including neighborhood influences, poverty and socioeconomic disadvantage, ethnicity and immigration, cross-cultural influences, globalization, and the integration of theory, research, practice, and policy on youth development.

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            Data Sources

            There are many good sources for data on adolescents, though the subjects keep aging out of the population. Thus, what was once a good adolescent dataset (AddHealth, NLSY) becomes a chance to study life course issues; indeed, there is a lot of overlap between these two subfields. Many education-oriented datasets (ECLS-K) are perfect for studying adolescents because adolescence is the time when students become old enough to be survey and interview respondents themselves rather than having their parents answer for them. Health surveys such as CHIS and YRBS are also useful to study adolescent biology, risk behaviors, mental health, and some aspects of identity.

            • AddHealth.

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              The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) is a sample of more than 90,000 adolescents who were ages 13–19 in 1994. This cohort was followed into young adulthood with four in-home interviews, the most recent in 2008. AddHealth contains individual data on social, economic, psychological, and physical well-being, and contextual data on Family, Neighborhood, community, School, Peers, and romantic relationships.

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              • CHIS 2007.

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                The California Health Interview Survey interviews 3,638 Californian adolescents aged 12–17 on their health and behaviors, such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, mental health, suicide ideation, dietary intake, physical activity, sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, sun exposure, dental health, availability of food at home, neighborhood safety, and civic engagement. The survey is cross-sectional but repeated frequently (typically every two years)

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                • ECLS-K.

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                  The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten cohort examines child development, school readiness, and early school experiences in a nationally representative 1998 kindergarten cohort through 2007. Children, families, teachers, and schools provided information on children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Information on children’s home environment, home educational activities, school environment, classroom environment, classroom curriculum, and teacher qualifications was also collected.

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                  • NLSY.

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                    NLSY97 consists of a nationally representative sample of approximately 9,000 youth who were 12 to 16 years old as of 31 December 1996. Round 1 of the survey took place in 1997. In that round, both the eligible youth and one of that youth’s parents received hour-long personal interviews. Youth continue to be interviewed on an annual basis.

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                    • YRBS.

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                      The national Youth Risk Behavior Survey monitors health-risk behaviors, including risk-taking and violence, tobacco use, drug and alcohol use, sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and STDs, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity. The survey is conducted every two years on students in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the United States.

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                      A growing number of institutes, research centers, grant funding agencies, and professional organizations focus particularly on adolescents. All are interdisciplinary, and none is focused specifically on sociology. The Stanford Center on Adolescence is a research and training center for faculty, students, and post-doctoral researchers, whereas Society for Research on Adolescence and Society for Research in Child Development are professional organizations with biennial meetings. Center on Early Adolescence and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are government-funded grant institutions, while the William T. Grant Foundation is privately funded.

                      • Center on Early Adolescence.

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                        Funded by NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), the Center on Early Adolescence supports research on the development, treatment, and prevention of problems of early adolescence, and disseminates evidence-based information and interventions. The center promotes successful development of adolescents by helping families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities provide nurturing environments for young people.

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                        • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

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                          The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, housed under the National Institutes of Health, conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities.

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                          • Society for Research on Adolescence.

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                            The Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA) is an interdisciplinary organization focused on the theoretical, empirical, and policy research issues of adolescence. SRA promotes research on adolescents and serves as a network and forum for its members through biennial meetings and its Journal of Research on Adolescence (see Journals). Although dominated by developmental psychologists, SRA requires that every third president must be a non-psychologist.

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                            • Society for Research in Child Development.

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                              The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) is an interdisciplinary professional association composed of approximately 5,500 researchers, practitioners, and human development professionals worldwide. Its purpose is the promotion of multidisciplinary research in human development, exchange of information among scientists and other professionals of various disciplines, and applications of research findings. SRCD meets biennially, with the Society for Research on Adolescence, on alternate years.

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                              • Stanford Center on Adolescence.

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                                Through pre- and post-doctoral research fellowships, research grants, colloquia, and conferences, Stanford’s Center on Adolescence provides guidance for parenting, for improved educational practice, and for youth development in a wide variety of community settings.

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                                • William T. Grant Foundation.

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                                  The William T. Grant Foundation is a private grant-making institution dedicated to improving the lives of youth aged 8–25 in the United States by making grants to understand and improve social settings such as families, schools, peer groups, and organizations, and to study how social settings affect youth. The foundation accepts investigator-initiated grant proposals, funds fellowship programs, and issues requests for proposals.

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                                  There is no journal explicitly devoted to the sociology of adolescence, but many interdisciplinary journals include sociological articles. Child Development, the Journal of Research on Adolescence, and the Journal of Adolescent Research are dominated by developmental psychologists but also feature the work of scholars from the fields of sociology, education, law, and medicine. Youth and Society is a less competitive social science journal that does not privilege any field. Sociology of Education is the most sociological, but it focuses on one, albeit important, aspect of adolescence: education. The journals are described and evaluated in terms of impact factor, a measure used by the ISI Web of Science as an indicator of the frequency with which the “average article” in a journal has been cited in the most recent year. Thus, the impact factor of a journal is calculated by dividing the number of current-year citations by the source items published in that journal during the previous two years.

                                  • Child Development.

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                                    CD is the flagship journal in the field of child development (including infant, child, and adolescent studies) and is the journal of the Society for Research on Child Development. A source of information for researchers, theorists, clinicians, educational psychologists, special education teachers, and scholars of sociology, law, and medicine, it boasts an impact factor of 3.77.

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                                    • Journal of Adolescent Research.

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                                      JAR is for all academics, practitioners, policy makers, and journalists interested in a global perspective on adolescence (ages 10–18) and emerging adulthood (ages 18–25). It publishes articles that combine both quantitative and qualitative methods, use a systematic qualitative or ethnographic approach, break new theoretical ground, or use a new methodological approach. Impact factor, 1.164.

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                                      • Journal of Research on Adolescence.

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                                        JRA is the journal of the interdisciplinary Society for Research on Adolescence. It publishes both quantitative and qualitative methodologies applied to cognitive, physical, emotional, and social development and behavior. The journal focuses on developmental patterns inherent throughout adolescence, including cross-national and cross-cultural studies. Impact factor, 1.493.

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                                        • Sociology of Education.

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                                          SOE examines how social institutions and individuals’ experiences within these institutions affect educational processes and social development. Such research may span various levels of analysis, ranging from the individual to the structure of relations among social and educational institutions. In an increasingly complex society, important educational issues arise throughout the life cycle. Impact factor, 1.344.

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                                          • Youth & Society.

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                                            Y&S is a multidisciplinary, global journal focused on issues related to the second decade of life. The articles feature transitional issues from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood, as well as the social, contextual, and political factors that influence healthy and harmful adolescent development. Impact factor, 1.058.

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                                            Social Transitions

                                            Adolescence encompasses the social redefinition of an individual. This maturation process transforms a young person’s self-concept and induces serious thought about future roles (occupation, citizen, spouse, parent, etc.) and the consequences of the roles she or he chooses. Most of the sociological literature focuses on transitions through school (Benner and Graham 2009; Perreira, et al. 2006) and into jobs (Johnson 2002, Bozick 2009).

                                            • Benner, Aprile D., and Sandra Graham. 2009. The transition to high school as a developmental process among multiethnic urban youth. Child Development 80.2: 356–376.

                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01265.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              This paper describes the disruptions many adolescents experience in the transition to high school, and the consequences of those disruptions (reduced psychological functioning and grades). Transitions are particularly challenging for minority students when their numerical representation declines significantly from middle to high school. The authors highlight the value of examining transitions in their developmental contexts and of implementing transition support.

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                                              • Bozick, Robert. 2009. Job opportunities, economic resources, and the postsecondary destinations of American youth. Demography 46.3: 493–512.

                                                DOI: 10.1353/dem.0.0065Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Bozick tests the “warehouse hypothesis” that youth are more likely to leave school and enter the labor force when there are available job opportunities (and vice versa). He finds support for the hypothesis, showing that unemployment levels and job requirements affect the odds of entering the labor force or enrolling in college. The effect is more pronounced for low-income than for high-income youth.

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                                                • Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick. 2002. Social origins, adolescent experiences, and work value trajectories during the transition to adulthood. Social Forces 80.4: 1307–1341.

                                                  DOI: 10.1353/sof.2002.0028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  This study shows that work values change substantially during adolescence, indicating some growing realism with age. Furthermore, work value trajectories are systematically tied to social origin and early experience, with gender and race playing a particularly important role both in initial adolescent work values and in changes that occur as youth come to terms with their occupational opportunities.

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                                                  • Perreira, Krista M., Kathleen Mullan Harris, and Dohoon Lee. 2006. Making it in America: High school completion by immigrant and native youth. Demography 43.3: 511–536.

                                                    DOI: 10.1353/dem.2006.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    These authors show that first-generation youth of Hispanic, Asian, and African heritage obtain more education than their parents, but the second generation and third or higher generations lose ground. Differences in dropout rates by race and ethnicity and by immigrant generation are driven by differences in human, cultural, and social capital. While human and social capital resources improve with increasing immigrant generation, cultural capital diminishes.

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                                                    Biological Transitions

                                                    The nurture versus nature debate is alive and well in sociology of adolescence. Iervolino, et al. 2002, and Nielsen 2006 make use of biological data to tease out the influence of genetic endowment, family environment, and other contexts (peers, school, etc.). They come to somewhat conflicting conclusions: Although both show that genes have an influence, Nielsen shows that genetics affects attainment, while Iervolino and colleagues find that genetics mediates the relationship between parenting and achievement. Both find that non-shared environments (school, peers, etc.) have a substantial influence on developmental outcomes.

                                                    • Harris, Judith Rich. 1998. The nurture assumption. New York: Free Press.

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                                                      Harris disputes the popular notion that personality is largely influenced by parenting style. Claiming that most studies showing parental influence fail to control for genetic influences, she proposes that the peer group is a more important influence on everything from personality to achievement because children identify with peers more than with parents. This controversial theory has been criticized for being incorrect as well as unoriginal.

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                                                    • Iervolino, Alessandra C., Alison Pike, Beth Manke, David Reiss, Hetherington E. Mavis, and Robert Plomin. 2002. Genetic and environmental influences in adolescent peer socialization: Evidence from two genetically sensitive designs. Child Development 73.1: 162.

                                                      DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00398Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Iervolino and colleagues use behavioral genetic data to investigate Judith Harris’s controversial book The Nurture Assumption (Harris 1998). Harris argues that peer relationships (not parental influence) are the chief determinants of personality because genetic factors mediate the correlations between parenting and youths’ developmental outcomes. In contrast, Iervolino and colleagues argue that although some dimensions of peers are mediated by genetic factors, non-shared environmental influence is substantial.

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                                                      • Nielsen, François. 2006. Achievement and ascription in educational attainment: Genetic and environmental influences on adolescent schooling. Social Forces 85.1: 193–216.

                                                        DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0135Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        To improve specification of the classic “status attainment” model, Nielsen uses a “behavior genetic” model that distinguishes the influences of genetic endowment, shared family environment, and unshared environment. He finds large genetic components, small shared environmental components, and large unshared environmental components. Thus, genetics and unshared contexts (peers, school classroom, etc.) play a much bigger role than family environment in attainment.

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                                                        Much of the recent work on adolescents focuses on the interaction between individuals and the various contexts they inhabit. In particular, scholars are interested in how these contexts affect developmental outcomes such as achievement, health, deviance, and peer relationships. Cook, et al. 2002 argues that high-quality and low-quality contexts tend to affect youths somewhat equally, and that cumulatively the contexts have a strong impact on development. In contrast, Duncan, et al. 2001 argues that the family-based factors are stronger than other contexts because siblings’ outcomes are much more highly correlated than are those of self-nominated peers, classmates, or neighborhood peers. MacLeod 2008 was originally written as an undergraduate honors thesis in the mid-1980s and is currently in its third edition and using longitudinal follow-up interviews with the respondents. MacLeod explores the tension between structural context and human agency by comparing two groups of boys growing up in a housing project. One group works hard and tries to achieve the American dream, while the other sinks to social expectations of it through deviant behavior. MacLeod sets up the hope that human agency will prevail for the former group, but he demonstrates the grip of social structure when, by middle age, very few members of either group have managed to “make it.”

                                                        • Cook, Thomas D., Melissa R. Herman, Meredith Phillips, and Richard A. Settersten Jr. 2002. Some ways in which neighborhoods, nuclear families, friendship groups, and schools jointly affect changes in early adolescent development. Child Development 73.4: 1283–1309.

                                                          DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00472Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This study assesses how the quality of an adolescent’s school, neighborhood, family, and peer groups jointly contribute to developmental outcomes. Each of these contexts facilitates individual change in achievement, mental health, and social behavior. However, individual context effects were modest and did not vary much by context, while the joint influence of all four contexts was large.

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                                                          • Duncan, Greg J., Johanne Boisjoly Harris, and Kathleen Mullan. 2001. Sibling, peer, neighbor, and schoolmate correlations as indicators of the importance of context for adolescent development. Demography 38.3: 437–447.

                                                            DOI: 10.1353/dem.2001.0026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            By calculating correlations in achievement and delinquency between genetically differentiated siblings within a family, between peers as defined by adolescents’ “best friend” nominations, between schoolmates living in the same neighborhood, and between grademates within a school, this study finds that the family context is more influential than neighborhood or school in affecting adolescents’ achievement and behavior.

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                                                            • MacLeod, Jay. 2008. Ain’t no makin’ it. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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                                                              MacLeod explores the tension between context and agency by comparing two groups of boys growing up in a housing project. One group works hard and tries to achieve the American dream, while the other sinks to social expectations of it through deviant behavior. In the end, neither group “makes it,” showing the influence of context.

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                                                            Studies of the family context consider parenting style, family structure (including parents’ marital status, household members, birth order, extended family network), family disruptions (death, illness, parental job loss, adoption, birth, household moving, etc.), and qualities of family life (structured homework time and place, family meals, curfew, decision-making style). The following articles examine the connections among family structure, parental involvement, and adolescent behavior. Coley, et al. 2009 analyzes connections between parenting techniques and sexual risk behaviors of adolescents. Powell, et al. 2006 examines the relation with parental age and the supply of resources and educational expectations for their children. Brown 2006 looks at the influence of parental marital and cohabitation transitions on adolescent outcomes, while Hawkins, et al. 2007 tests whether nonresident fathers affect their adolescent children’s well-being or whether the children’s well-being affects the father’s involvement. Gennetian, et al. 2008 studies the connection between maternal work hours and adolescent achievement.

                                                            • Brown, Susan L. 2006. Family structure transitions and adolescent well-being. Demography 43.3: 447–461.

                                                              DOI: 10.1353/dem.2006.0021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Brown studies the effects of changes in family structure on adolescent well-being, finding that adolescents whose parents divorce or separate suffer relative to those in stable homes with two biological parents. Furthermore, adolescents who move into cohabiting stepfamilies fare worse than those who move into married stepfamilies. Even those living with single mothers do better than those in cohabiting stepfamilies.

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                                                              • Coley, Rebekah Levine, Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, and Holly S. Schindler. 2009. Fathers’ and mothers’ parenting predicting and responding to adolescent sexual risk behaviors. Child Development 80.3: 808–827.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01299.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Coley and colleagues explore transactional models of deviance (models contending that parenting and adolescent deviance coevolve endogenously). They analyze growth trajectories of sexual risk behaviors and parenting processes, showing that family activities protect adolescents from sexual risk and that fathers and mothers have different responses to youths’ sexual behavior.

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                                                                • Gennetian, Lisa A., Leonard M. Lopoo, and Andrew S. London. 2008. Maternal work hours and adolescents’ school outcomes among low-income families in four urban counties. Demography 45.1: 31–53.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/dem.2008.0003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This article explores how changes in the work hours of impoverished single mothers affect their children’s achievement. Using fixed-effects modeling, the study found that increased maternal work hours affected three adolescent outcomes: attendance, performance, and parental contact. Boys are particularly sensitive to changes in maternal work hours.

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                                                                  • Hawkins, Daniel N., Paul R. Amato, and Valarie King. 2007. Nonresident father involvement and adolescent well-being: Father effects or child effects? American Sociological Review 72.6: 990–1010.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200607Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    This study refutes the “father effects” model in which having an involved father improves adolescent adjustment. Instead, these findings support the “child effects” model in which adolescent well-being causes, rather than results from, levels of nonresident father involvement. That is, fathers respond to the well-being of their adolescent children by becoming more or less involved.

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                                                                    • Powell, Brian, Lala Carr Steelman, and Robert M. Carini. 2006. Advancing age, advantaged youth: Parental age and the transmission of resources to children. Social Forces 84.3: 1359–1390.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0064Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Powell and colleagues examine the importance of parental age in the parental supply of economic resources and social and cultural capital to adolescents, and educational expectations parents have for their children. The study finds a positive relationship between parental age and provision of resources and expectations, even controlling for supplemental educational services (SES) and family structure. This pattern is stronger for economic than for interactional resources.

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                                                                      The sociological literature on the school context for adolescents focuses on how various school qualities affect achievement and attainment. The papers in this section discuss the effects of school qualities such as socioeconomic and racial segregation (Reardon, et al. 2000), enrollment and engagement of immigrant youth (Hirschman 2001), high-school course-taking patterns (also known as tracking; Frank, et al. 2008), school type and size (Watt 2003), and classroom organization (McFarland 2001, Cohen and Lotan 1997). Oakes 2005 is central to understanding the effects of schools, classrooms, and education politics on adolescent achievement.

                                                                      • Boger, John C., and Gary Orfield, eds. 2005. School resegregation: Must the South turn back? Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.5149/uncp/9780807856130Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        This edited volume collects the latest research on the trend toward resegregation in Southern schools—places that had achieved the greatest integration gains in the 1970s but are now no longer under court-ordered desegregation. The policy makers and scholars whose contributions make up the collection explain why this trend is accelerating, who is harmed, and what can be done to change it.

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                                                                      • Cohen, Elizabeth G., and Rachel A. Lotan, eds. 1997. Working for heterogeneous classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press.

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                                                                        Cohen and Lotan’s collection of articles and essays describe the theory behind “Complex Instruction,” Cohen’s pioneering method of creating equal status interaction and more equitable learning in classrooms with students of different backgrounds. This method takes a pure sociological theory of expectation states based on status characteristics and brings it alive in a useful policy.

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                                                                      • Frank, Kenneth A., Kathryn S. Schiller, Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Anna Strassmann Mueller, Robert Crosnoe, Jennifer Pearson, and Chandra Muller. 2008. The social dynamics of mathematics coursetaking in high school. American Journal of Sociology 113.6: 1645–1696.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1086/587153Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Using multilevel social network analysis, these authors show that adolescents’ course-taking patterns are influenced by their local peer networks (called “local positions”), particularly for girls. That is, girls are more likely to follow the social norms of their local positions in choosing courses. This causes homogeneity within local positions and heterogeneity between local positions.

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                                                                        • Hirschman, Charles. 2001. The educational enrollment of immigrant youth: A test of the segmented-assimilation hypothesis. Demography 38.3: 317–336.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/dem.2001.0028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Hirschman tests the segmented assimilation hypothesis and the immigrant optimism hypothesis. The latter is supported because most immigrant adolescents are more likely than their native-born peers to be enrolled in high school (supporting the immigrant optimism hypothesis). The former is supported because Mexican immigrants who arrived as teenagers and all Hispanic Caribbean immigrant youth are at greater risk of non-enrollment.

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                                                                          • McFarland, Daniel A. 2001. Student resistance: How the formal and informal organization of classrooms facilitate everyday forms of student defiance. American Journal of Sociology 107.3: 612–678.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/338779Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            McFarland argues that student defiance derives from formal and informal organizational characteristics of social settings rather than from student demographic variation. Defiant behaviors arise when instructional formats give students access to public discourse and when students have advantaged social network relations. Resistant behavior results from organizational features of social networks and instruction rather than “alienation” factors, and is therefore rectifiable through classroom management.

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                                                                            • Oakes, Jeannie. 2005. Keeping track: How schools structure inequality. 2d ed. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                              The updated version of Oakes’s landmark study of what goes on in upper, middle, and lower tracks in public schools now includes a stinging criticism of the current organization of American schools and explanations of why the system is so entrenched.

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                                                                            • Reardon, Sean F., John T. Yun, and Tamela McNulty Eitle. 2000. The changing structure of school segregation: Measurement and evidence of multiracial metropolitan-area school segregation, 1989–1995. Demography 37.3: 351–364.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2648047Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              This study shows that although average levels of metropolitan school segregation did not change between 1989 and 1995, the definition of segregation masks important racial and demographic shifts in school populations: segregation between whites and all other students has increased while segregation among black, Hispanic, and Asian student groups has declined. Also, between-district segregation has grown while within-district segregation has declined.

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                                                                              • Watt, Toni Terling. 2003. Are small schools and private schools better for adolescents’ emotional adjustment? Sociology of Education 76.4: 344–367.

                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/1519870Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Although small schools and private schools are touted as offering a unique community that is conducive to emotional adjustment, Watt refutes claims that students who attend these types of schools are better off than those who attend large and/or public schools. Indeed, net of selection effects, small schools and private schools are actually associated with higher levels of depression, suicide, and weapon use.

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                                                                                Oppositional Culture

                                                                                The controversial theory of oppositional culture was originally proposed by John Ogbu in the 1970s (Ogbu 2003). Ogbu explained the black/white achievement gap as being caused by pressure from the black peer group and community to oppose the white middle-class dominance of schools. Thus, Ogbu argued, black students strive for low school performance because of racial peer pressure. Although he focused on the black/white gap, Ogbu generalized his theory to other minority groups. However, he carefully distinguished between “voluntary” and “involuntary” minorities: voluntary minorities are those who came to the majority culture seeking a better life and therefore came equipped with internal achievement motivation and sense of difficulties as challenges to be overcome. In contrast, involuntary minorities were enslaved, conquered, or forced into the new culture as refugees. Thus, involuntary minorities did not choose the new culture and therefore developed an attitude that sees difficulties as being caused by discrimination—by others rather than the self. Ogbu argued that this oppositional attitude, which was reinforced by the peer group and community labeling school behavior as “acting white,” explained the test score gap. The following studies debate the theory, with few finding support but none rejecting the theory outright. Tyson, et al. 2005 argues that the oppositional culture is not only racial but also class-based. Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey 1998 criticizes Ogbu by showing that the authors’ quantitative data yielded vastly different results from Ogbu’s qualitative data. Farkas, et al. 2002 counters this rejection of the oppositional culture hypothesis on the grounds that Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey’s study did not consider coping strategies in response to racial pressure. Downey and Ainsworth-Darnell 2002 is a response to Farkas and colleagues, arguing that the authors’ analysis was misinterpreted, but acknowledging that the hypothesis needs further testing.

                                                                                • Ainsworth-Darnell, James W., and Douglas B. Downey. 1998. Assessing the oppositional culture explanation for racial/ethnic differences in school performance. American Sociological Review 63:536–553.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2657266Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey (ADD) argue that Ogbu’s differentiation between involuntary minorities (those from historically oppressed groups) and voluntary minorities is not supported by quantitative data from the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) because perceptions of opportunity and resistance to school vary across voluntary and involuntary minorities. The validity of the ways these authors chose to instantiate (measure) Ogbu’s concepts is debated by some other works cited in this section.

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                                                                                  • Downey, Douglas B., and James W. Ainsworth-Darnell. 2002. The search for oppositional culture among black students. American Sociological Review 67.1: 156–164.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/3088939Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    The authors counter Farkas and colleagues’ 2002 assertion that the former had “rejected” Ogbu’s theory, saying they only claimed that the weight of current evidence was against the theory, and that empirical evidence of peer-group opposition among blacks is fragile and narrow. The position of Farkas and colleagues (FLM) is that there is a “disjuncture between African-American attitudes and their school behavior.” Everyone agrees that the theory needs further testing.

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                                                                                    • Farkas, George, Christy Lleras, and Steve Maczuga. 2002. Does oppositional culture exist in minority and poverty peer groups? American Sociological Review 67.1: 148–155.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/3088938Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The authors criticize Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey 1998’s rejection of Ogbu, alleging that ADD did not properly measure the strategies used by academically oriented students to remain popular despite peer group opposition. Using different measures from Ainsworth-Darnell and Downey, Farkas and colleagues found greater peer-group opposition to academic effort among black than among white students. They also found opposition among low-SES (supplemental educational services) students, but argue it is consistent with Ogbu’s theory.

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                                                                                      • Ogbu, John U. 2003. Black American students in an affluent suburb: A study of academic disengagement. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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                                                                                        Ogbu’s book summarizes and updates his theory of oppositional culture (“acting white”), which proposes that black students underperform because of the black community’s culture of opposition to white middle-class control of schools. The qualitative study supports the theory based on fieldwork in a suburb of Cleveland where wealthy black students underperform in a majority white school.

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                                                                                      • Tyson, Karolyn, William Darity Jr., and Domini R. Castellino. 2005. It’s not “a black thing”: Understanding the burden of acting white and other dilemmas of high achievement. American Sociological Review 70.4: 582–605.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/000312240507000403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Tyson and colleagues challenge Ogbu’s theory that black students underperform because of racial peer pressure. The findings show that most black adolescents are goal-oriented, and that racialized peer pressure against achievement is not prevalent. Because high-achieving low-SES white students also report negative peer pressure regarding academic achievement, the authors argue that school structure, not oppositional black culture, explains racial and class-based stigmas.

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                                                                                        Currently, sociologists are interested in friendship networks among adolescents, particularly in the racial and social makeup of those networks and how peers influence adolescent behavior (achievement, aspirations, deviance, sexual initiation, etc.). Brown, et al. 2008; Moody 2001; and Mouw and Entwisle 2006 look at how race, racial segregation, and ethnic crowd membership affect friendship choices, while South and Haynie 2004 and Crosnoe, et al. 2008 consider the effects of residential mobility and body mass index on friendships. Chein, et al. 2011 uses fMRI brain scans to document the influence of peers on risk taking among adolescents that is in contrast to the influence of peers on adult risk taking.

                                                                                        • Brown, B. Bradford, Melissa R. Herman, Jill V. Hamm, and Daniel J. Heck. 2008. Ethnicity and image: Correlates of crowd affiliation among ethnic minority youth. Child Development 79.3: 529–546.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01141.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          This study examines crowd affiliation among minority youth, showing that ethnic crowd affiliation, as opposed to activity-based or reputation-based crowd affiliation, is associated with positive features of ethnic orientation for Asian and Latino youth. However, ethnic crowd membership is also associated with some aspects of stereotyping and discrimination for Latinos. Multiracial youth are more likely to join activity-based crowds.

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                                                                                          • Chein, Jason, Dustin Albert, Kaitlyn Uckert, Lia O’Brien, and Laurence Steinberg. 2011. Peers increase adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brain’s reward circuitry. Developmental Science 10:F1–F10.

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                                                                                            Adolescents take more risks in a simulated driving task in the presence of peers than alone. In contrast, adult behavior does not change in the presence of observers. The authors argue that the presence of peers increases adolescent risk taking by heightening sensitivity to the potential reward value of risky decisions.

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                                                                                            • Crosnoe, Robert, Kenneth Frank, and Anna Strassmann Mueller. 2008. Gender, body size and social relations in American high schools. Social Forces 86.3: 1189–1216.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Investigating the role of body size in social networks, this study found that body mass index (BMI) is inversely related to being nominated by schoolmates as friends, particularly among girls. Similarity in BMI also strongly predicted friendship formation. Thus, the connection between body size and high school social relations was largely a function of homophily and the stigmatization of heavier body sizes.

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                                                                                              • Moody, James. 2001. Race, school integration, and friendship segregation in America. American Journal of Sociology 107.3: 679–716.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/338954Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                This study tests the contact theory hypothesis that more racially integrated schools should have greater interracial friendship. Looking at how schools are organized and how students are assigned to academic tracks and extracurricular activities, Moody finds support for the theory: in schools where extracurricular activities are integrated and races mix within tracks, friendship segregation is less pronounced.

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                                                                                                • Mouw, Ted, and Barbara Entwisle. 2006. Residential segregation and interracial friendship in schools. American Journal of Sociology 112.2: 394–441.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/506415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  This article examines the effects of racial residential segregation, within-school segregation, and school racial diversity on school-based friendship segregation. Results suggest that one-third of racial friendship segregation is attributable to residential segregation. Most of this effect is the result of residential segregation across schools rather than within them.

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                                                                                                  • South, Scott J., and Dana L. Haynie. 2004. Friendship networks of mobile adolescents. Social Forces 83.1: 315–350.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/sof.2004.0128Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This study examines the impact of residential and school mobility on the structure of adolescents’ friendship networks. Recent movers have small, dense networks, and they occupy less prestigious positions in their networks. Furthermore, students in high-mobility schools also have smaller networks and they receive fewer friendship nominations. The negative impact of individual mobility on adolescents’ friendship networks is attenuated by higher school-level mobility.

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                                                                                                    Like other contexts, neighborhood is associated with everything from sexual behavior to deviance to school attendance. Measuring neighborhood context is a subfield unto itself (see Sampson, et al. 2002), but most scholars use a fairly consistent definition of quality that includes census data on poverty and crime rates along with measures of social cohesion and collective efficacy. Several articles here show the connection between poor neighborhood quality and early sexual behavior (Dupéré, et al. 2008; Browning, et al. 2008; Browning, et al. 2004). Others explore the effects of neighborhood on Deviance and achievement (Harding 2003, Harding 2009).

                                                                                                    • Browning, Christopher R., Lori A. Burrington, Tama Leventhal, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2008. Neighborhood structural inequality, collective efficacy, and sexual risk behavior among urban youth. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 49.3: 269–285.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/002214650804900303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Collective efficacy theory suggests that neighborhood structural disadvantage (poverty, residential instability, immigrant concentration, and diminished collective efficacy) increases adolescent multiple sexual partnering. This study finds that collective efficacy (measured as social cohesion, intergenerational closure, and informal social control) is negatively associated with having two or more sexual partners versus one sexual partner, and the protective effect of collective efficacy increases with age.

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                                                                                                      • Browning, Christopher R., Tama Leventhal, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2004. Neighborhood context and racial differences in early adolescent sexual activity. Demography 41.4: 697–720.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/dem.2004.0029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Evidence suggests that African American youths initiate sexual activity at earlier ages than youths of other ethnic groups. This study finds that demographic background, family processes, peer influences, and developmental risk factors account for about 30 percent of the ethnic group difference in sexual onset. Neighborhood poverty and collective efficacy largely explain the residual racial differences after controlling for individual factors.

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                                                                                                        • Dupéré, Véronique, Éric Lacourse, Willms J. Douglas, Tama Leventhal, and Richard E. Tremblay. 2008. Neighborhood poverty and early transition to sexual activity in young adolescents: A developmental ecological approach. Child Development 79.5: 1463–1476.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01199.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This study examines the link between neighborhood poverty and the timing of sexual initiation. To no one’s surprise, it finds that girls who have conduct problems and who live in poor neighborhoods report earlier sexual activity. Peer characteristics partly account for this susceptibility. Among boys, those with combined risks at multiple levels are more vulnerable to early sexual activity, though no neighborhood effect appears.

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                                                                                                          • Harding, David J. 2003. Counterfactual models of neighborhood effects: The effect of neighborhood poverty on dropping out and teenage pregnancy. American Journal of Sociology 109.3: 676–719.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/379217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This article uses a counterfactual model to show that when two groups of children, identical at age 10 on observed factors, experience different neighborhoods during adolescence, those in high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to drop out of high school and to have a teenage pregnancy than those in low-poverty neighborhoods.

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                                                                                                            • Harding, David J. 2009. Violence, older peers, and the socialization of adolescent boys in disadvantaged neighborhoods. American Sociological Review 74.3: 445–464.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/000312240907400306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              This article explores the sources and processes underlying adolescent socialization in disadvantaged neighborhoods, implicating the older peer group for teaching deviance. Disadvantaged youths are more likely to spend time with older individuals, in part because interaction with older peers helps youths cope with violence in their neighborhoods. Such interaction can also expose adolescents to local, unconventional, or alternative cultural models.

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                                                                                                              • Sampson, Robert J., Jeffrey D. Morenoff, and Thomas Gannon-Rowley. 2002. Assessing “neighborhood effects”: Social processes and new directions in research. Annual Review of Sociology 28:443–478.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.110601.141114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This article reviews over forty studies of the effects of neighborhood characteristics on adolescent health and deviance. Moving beyond traditional characteristics such as concentrated poverty, the authors evaluate social-interactional and institutional mechanisms that differentiate neighborhoods. For example, they consider how neighborhood ties, social control, mutual trust, institutional resources, disorder, and routine activity patterns affect delinquency, violence, depression, and high-risk behavior.

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                                                                                                                Though previous research has indicated a positive correlation between work and several negative developmental outcomes (deviance, low achievement, low attainment), new research questions this relationship. Lee and Staff 2007 finds no relationship between work and high-school dropping out, and Paternoster, et al. 2003 finds no relationship with deviance. Staff and Mortimer 2007 shows that a moderate amount of work during adolescence is actually conducive to attaining a bachelor’s degree for at-risk youth, though they point out that a heavy commitment to paid work harms achievement. Entwisle, et al. 2000 addresses the likelihood of working and maintaining a job, and contrasts the types of jobs held by youth of different backgrounds.

                                                                                                                • Entwisle, Doris R., Karl L. Alexander, and Linda Steffel Olson. 2000. Early work histories of urban youth. American Sociological Review 65.2: 279–297.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2657441Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Although more black adolescents apply for jobs, white adolescents are more likely to be employed. At ages 13–14, lower-SES (supplemental educational services) and lower-achieving students were more likely than their advantaged counterparts to hold semiskilled jobs (rather than unskilled jobs), but during later years, students with better school records were more likely to hold semiskilled jobs.

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                                                                                                                  • Lee, Jennifer C., and Jeremy Staff. 2007. When work matters: The varying impact of work intensity on high school dropout. Sociology of Education 80.2: 158–178.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/003804070708000204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This study explores how paid work relates to dropping out of high school. Previous research has indicated that the two were positively correlated, but was unclear about causality and confounding factors. Using propensity-score matching techniques, Lee and Staff controlled for differences in SES, achievement, and aspirations, finding that involvement in paid work does not encourage dropping out of high school.

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                                                                                                                    • Paternoster, Raymond, Shawn Bushway, Robert Brame, and Robert Apel. 2003. The effect of teenage employment on delinquency and problem behaviors. Social Forces 82.1: 297–335.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/sof.2003.0104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Although previous research has found connections between intensity or hours of work and adolescent deviance, this study controls for selection effects by using random and fixed-effects models. These models, which adjust for observed and unobserved sources of population heterogeneity, show no evidence of a positive relationship between working and delinquency.

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                                                                                                                      • Staff, Jeremy, and Jeylan T. Mortimer. 2007. Educational and work strategies from adolescence to early adulthood: Consequences for educational attainment. Social Forces 85.3: 1169–1194.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/sof.2007.0057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Mortimer and Staff show that part-time work during adolescence is conducive to earning a bachelor’s degree. A moderate amount of work along with school is especially beneficial to the educational attainment of disadvantaged youth.

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                                                                                                                        Most studies of leisure time among adolescents focus on the relationship between time spent and other developmental outcomes, such as achievement and deviance. The following studies address the relation between the activities in which adolescents participate and deviant behavior. Kreager 2007 debunks social control theory in explaining the relationship between high-school interscholastic sports and male violence. Hoffmann 2006 studies the implications of extracurricular activities on alcohol use among male and female adolescents.

                                                                                                                        • Hoffmann, John P. 2006. Extracurricular activities, athletic participation, and adolescent alcohol use: Gender-differentiated and school-contextual effects. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 47.3: 275–290.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/002214650604700306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Hoffmann explores the well-documented connection between athletic activities and alcohol use. He shows that the negative association between nonathletic activities and alcohol use is stronger among males in predominantly white schools, while the positive association between athletic involvement and alcohol use is stronger among males in wealthier schools. Hoffmann argues that these effects reflect variation in high-school cultures and resources.

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                                                                                                                          • Kreager, Derek A. 2007. Unnecessary roughness? School sports, peer networks, and male adolescent violence. American Sociological Review 72.5: 705–724.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200503Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This article investigates connections between high-school sports and male violence. Participating in contact sports (football and wrestling) and having peers who participate in those sports is associated with violence. Kreager cites social learning theory and masculinity theory, rather than social control theory, to explain these findings.

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                                                                                                                            Sociologists tend to examine behavior through the lens of status characteristics or demographic groups. The most important of these for adolescence are Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation. The research in this section examines typical developmental outcomes but focuses on status differences in these outcomes. For example, in looking at achievement, research described in the Gender section notes that girls do better in childhood and early adolescence, whereas boys excel later.


                                                                                                                            Adolescence is a time when gender differences emerge more prominently. Among white youth, girls appear to fall behind boys in areas in which they previously excelled, such as academics and school attachment. Though such factors as self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and relationship with parents are linked to this gender reversal phenomenon, they are not directly causal (Johnson, et al. 2006). Others have found gender differences in the association between peer group academic orientation and individual scholastic success. In particular, taking math courses is positively related to achievement of close friends among girls, but less so among boys (Crosnoe, et al. 2008). Athletic participation also affects developmental outcomes differently by gender: athletic participation and strenuous exercise buffer sexual risk for girls, but are related to higher sexual risk levels for boys. Unpacking this discovery by Race shows that athletic participation lowers sexual risks for white males (as it does for girls), but increases sexual risk for black youth (Miller, et al. 2002). Reports of masculinity and femininity also have interesting gender patterns: girls report higher femininity than boys, but girls and boys do not differ in reports of masculinity (Priess, et al. 2009). Increasing levels of reported masculinity predict fewer depressive symptoms in early adulthood for both genders (Barrett and White 2002).

                                                                                                                            • Barrett, Anne E., and Helene Raskin White. 2002. Trajectories of gender role orientations in adolescence and early adulthood: A prospective study of the mental health effects of masculinity and femininity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43.4: 451–468.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3090237Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              This study found that high and increasing levels of masculinity during adolescence decrease depressive symptoms in early adulthood for males and females.

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                                                                                                                              • Crosnoe, Robert, Catherine Riegle-Crumb, Sam Field, Kenneth Frank, and Chandra Muller. 2008. Peer group contexts of girls’ and boys’ academic experiences. Child Development 79.1: 139–155.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01116.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Crosnoe and colleagues show that there is a strong association between taking math courses and achievement of close peers, particularly among girls. This association is stronger toward the end of high school and weaker among students who had previous failures in school.

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                                                                                                                                • Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick, Robert Crosnoe, and Lyssa L. Thaden. 2006. Gendered patterns in adolescents’ school attachment. Social Psychology Quarterly 69.3: 284–295.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/019027250606900305Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Johnson and colleagues show that, in contrast to earlier years, white female students fall behind male students in achievement and school attachment. Factors linked to this phenomenon include self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and relationships with parents, but these factors are not causing major gender differences.

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                                                                                                                                  • Miller, Kathleen E., Grace M. Barnes, Merrill J. Melnick, Donald F. Sabo, and Michael P. Farrell. 2002. Gender and racial/ethnic differences in predicting adolescent sexual risk: Athletic participation versus exercise. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43.4: 436–450.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/3090236Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This study examined the effect of athletic participation versus exercise on sexual risk. Both forms buffer sexual risk for girls, but strenuous exercise is related to higher sexual risk levels for boys. Athletic participation lowers sexual risk for white males but increases sexual risk for black youth.

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                                                                                                                                    • Priess, Heather A., Sara M. Lindberg, and Janet Shibley Hyde. 2009. Adolescent gender-role identity and mental health: Gender intensification revisited. Child Development 80.5: 1531–1544.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01349.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Gender intensification, an increased pressure for adolescents to conform to culturally sanctioned gender roles, has been posited as an explanation for the emergence of the gender difference in depression. This study found that though adolescent girls reported higher femininity than boys, there were no gender differences in masculinity. Increasing levels of masculinity for both predicted fewer depressive symptoms.

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                                                                                                                                      Race and ethnicity are important status characteristics for everyone, but particularly for adolescents, who are trying to shape their identities and develop a stable, coherent sense of self. The papers in this section deal with how adolescents identify themselves, the factors that shape those identities, how the adolescents are perceived by others, how adolescents of different racial/ethnic groups are treated, and what racial differences exist in developmental outcomes. Seaton, et al. 2006 developed the Status Model of Racial Identity Development, based on earlier work on general identity development by Erik Erikson and later work by James Marcia and Jeanne Phinney on racial identity in particular. Supple, et al. 2006 documents the connection between Latino identity and developmental outcomes, while Mandara, et al. 2009 does the same for African American youth. An emerging focus in this area has been multiracial youth and how their identities affect their developmental outcomes. Herman 2004 documents determinants of multiracial identity, while Hitlin, et al. 2006 shows that multiracial identities, unlike monoracial ones, change over time. Campbell and Troyer 2007 shows that being misclassified or misperceived causes psychological stress, and Herman 2010 demonstrates that multiracial youth are often misclassified or misperceived. McLeod and Owens 2004 documents the additive consequences of having multiple low status factors (i.e., race plus poverty) on mental health outcomes for adolescents.

                                                                                                                                      • Campbell, Mary E., and Lisa Troyer. 2007. The implications of racial misclassification by observers. American Sociological Review 72.5: 750–765.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200505Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Campbell and Troyer show that Native American adolescents who self-identify with one racial group but are perceived by observers as “looking like” another racial group experience higher rates of psychological distress.

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                                                                                                                                        • Herman, Melissa. 2004. Forced to choose: Some determinants of racial identification in multiracial adolescents. Child Development 75.3: 730–748.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00703.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          This paper examines the growing population of multiracial youth, showing differences between subgroups in strength and importance of ethnic identity, self-esteem, and perceptions of ethnic discrimination. Physiognomy, ethnic identity, and race of co-resident parent(s), racial distribution and socioeconomic status of their neighborhood, and the racial distribution of their school are significantly associated with reported race for multiracial youth.

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                                                                                                                                          • Herman, Melissa R. 2010. Do you see what I am? How observers’ backgrounds affect their perceptions of multiracial faces. Social Psychology Quarterly 73.1: 58–78.

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                                                                                                                                            Herman shows that many multiracial youth are likely to be misperceived by observers, particularly part-black youth who “disobey” the “one-drop rule” by identifying as anything other than black. This type of misperception is associated with psychological distress.

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                                                                                                                                            • Hitlin, Steven, J. Scott Brown, and Glen H. Elder Jr. 2006. Racial self-categorization in adolescence: Multiracial development and social pathways. Child Development 77.5: 1298–1308.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00935.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This paper details the fluidity of racial identity among multiracial youth, confirming qualitative research and theories about variation in multiracial identity over time and across contexts. Youth who report being multiracial are four times as likely to switch self-identification as to report consistent multiracial identities. More multiracial adolescents either add or subtract a racial category than maintain consistent self-categorization.

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                                                                                                                                              • Johnson, Monica Kirkpatrick. 2004. Further evidence on adolescent employment and substance use: Differences by race and ethnicity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 45.2: 187–197.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/002214650404500205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                This study finds that the effect of adolescent work intensity on substance use is mostly limited to whites. Work intensity is not consistently related to alcohol, cigarette, or marijuana use among minority adolescents.

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                                                                                                                                                • Mandara, Jelani, Noni K. Gaylord-Harden, Maryse H. Richards, and Brian L. Ragsdale. 2009. The effects of changes in racial identity and self-esteem on changes in African American adolescents’ mental health. Child Development 80.6: 1660–1675.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01360.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  This study assessed the unique effects of racial identity and self-esteem on African American adolescents’ mental health. Racial identity and self-esteem are strongly correlated for males but not for females. For both, racial identity is negatively associated with depressive symptoms. The authors conclude that racial identity is as important as self-esteem to the mental health of African American adolescents.

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                                                                                                                                                  • McLeod, Jane D., and Timothy J. Owens. 2004. Psychological well-being in the early life course: Variations by socioeconomic status, gender, and race/ethnicity. Social Psychology Quarterly 67.3: 257–278.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/019027250406700303Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Drawing on social evaluation theories and stress-based explanations, the authors test the double jeopardy hypothesis that disadvantage is cumulative across negative statuses and over time during adolescence. Results are consistent with double jeopardy for the negative status combination race/ethnicity and poverty in terms of achievement and self-esteem. For the gender and race/ethnicity combination, however, results refuted the double jeopardy hypothesis.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Seaton, Eleanor K., Robert M. Sellers, and Krista Maywalt Scottham. 2006. The status model of racial identity development in African American adolescents: Evidence of structure, trajectories, and well-being. Child Development 77.5: 1416–1426.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00944.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Seaton and colleagues test the definition of the Identity Formation Model statuses (diffuse, foreclosed, moratorium, achieved) among adolescents. They also examine the shape and consequences of developmental trajectories. They found evidence of the four statuses, and that the fourth (achieved) was most associated with psychological well-being. However, they found little evidence of unidirectional developmental trajectory through the statuses.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Supple, Andrew J., Sharon R. Ghazarian, James M. Frabutt, Scott W. Plunkett, and Tovah Sands. 2006. Contextual influences on Latino adolescent ethnic identity and academic outcomes. Child Development 77.5: 1427–1433.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00945.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This study examines the association among three components of ethnic identity (exploration, resolution, and affirmation) and factors related to family, neighborhood, and individual characteristics. Family ethnic socialization is associated with ethnic exploration and resolution, but not with affirmation. Instead, parental behaviors and neighborhood characteristics mediate the effects of family socialization on affirmation. Ethnic affirmation is associated with school performance.

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                                                                                                                                                        Sexual Orientation

                                                                                                                                                        Because of the difficulty of getting review boards’ permission for work with human subjects, very little work has been done on adolescent sexual orientation. Accordingly, Ritch Savin-Williams’s controversial book on gay teens is really the only one of its kind to address this sexual identity in depth (Savin-Williams 2005). In keeping with this difficulty, Wainright, et al. 2004, a study of the connection between parents’ sexual preference and adolescent romantic relationships among eighty-eight respondents, found no significant effect.

                                                                                                                                                        • Savin-Williams, Ritch C. 2005. The New Gay Teenager. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                          Psychologist Savin-Williams considers how sexual orientation affects mental health and identity development, arguing that the stereotype of depressed and socially isolated gay teens is inaccurate. He traces the acceptance and integration of gay teens since the 1980s and hopes that sexual preference will eventually become irrelevant to identity.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Wainright, Jennifer L., Stephen T. Russell, and Charlotte J. Patterson. 2004. Psychosocial adjustment, school outcomes, and romantic relationships of adolescents with same-sex parents. Child Development 75.6: 1886–1898.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00823.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Using a matched sample of adolescents from same-sex and opposite-sex parents, this study finds no effect of family type on measures of psychosocial adjustment and school outcomes. Assessments of romantic relationships and sexual behavior are also not associated with family type. Adolescents whose parents described closer relationships with them reported better school adjustment, regardless of family type.

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                                                                                                                                                          Developmental sociologists look at a range of outcomes, from mental and physical health to achievement, sexual behavior, and deviance. Although positive development in one outcome is often correlated with others, different mechanisms connect individual characteristics to outcomes: mental and physical health are most affected by stressors and other characteristics of the home, school, and peer group contexts, while achievement is more affected by parenting style and peer values. Sexual relationships and deviance are most influenced by peer behavior and attitudes.

                                                                                                                                                          Mental Health

                                                                                                                                                          Adolescent mental health has some similarities with adult mental health, but there is at least one interesting difference: ethnic minority youth are likely to have better mental health than whites, while ethnic minority adults are more likely to have mental health symptoms than whites. There are, of course, problems with measuring symptoms, since most minority groups have stronger norms against acknowledging and reporting mental health symptoms than whites do. Current research looks at the influence of immigration status and immigration generation on mental health, showing that early generations fare better (Harker 2001). Friendship networks and levels of social support also shape mental health among adolescents: too large a network and decaying social support are both associated with depressive symptoms (Falci and McNeely 2009, Cornwell 2003, Meadows 2007). However, social cohesion in the neighborhood, school, and family reduces such symptoms (Maimon and Kuhl 2008). McLeod and Fettes 2007 documents the endogenous relationship between mental health and achievement, while Ge, et al. 2001 does the same for obesity.

                                                                                                                                                          • Cornwell, Benjamin. 2003. The dynamic properties of social support: Decay, growth, and staticity, and their effects on adolescent depression. Social Forces 81.3: 953–978.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/sof.2003.0029Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            The social support of friends waxes and wanes, affecting mental health. Specifically, decaying support is associated with increased depression. Unfortunately, growth in support is not as strongly associated with reduction in depressive symptoms. Cornwell argues for the importance of taking a proactive rather than a reactive approach to managing adolescent depression.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Falci, Christina, and Clea McNeely. 2009. Too many friends: Social integration, network cohesion and adolescent depressive symptoms. Social Forces 87.4: 2031–2061.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0189Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This study examines social network size, cohesion, and social support, finding that adolescents with either too large or too small a network have higher levels of depressive symptoms. For girls, the ill effects of over-integration occur only at low levels of network cohesion, but the opposite is true for boys.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Ge, Xiaojia, Glen H. Elder Jr., Mark Regnerus, and Christine Cox. 2001. Pubertal transitions, perceptions of being overweight, and adolescents’ psychological maladjustment: Gender and ethnic differences. Social Psychology Quarterly 64.4: 363–375.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/3090160Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Among overweight adolescents, puberty is associated with depressed moods, somatic complaints, and lower self-esteem. Adolescents who claim to be overweight are more likely to be influenced by pubertal changes if they are white or Hispanic girls than if they are boys or black. Also, a sense of being overweight has more negative effects on white adolescents’ emotional health than on that of black and Hispanic youth.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Harker, Kathryn. 2001. Immigrant generation, assimilation, and adolescent psychological well-being. Social Forces 79.3: 969–1004.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/sof.2001.0010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Foreign-born adolescents experience better mental health than their American-born (first-generation) agemates of similar demographic and family backgrounds. However, second- and first-generation American adolescents do not differ significantly in mental health. Family protective factors among immigrants include parental supervision, lack of parent-child conflict, religious practices, and social support.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Maimon, David, and Danielle C. Kuhl. 2008. Social control and youth suicidality: Situating Durkheim’s ideas in a multilevel framework. American Sociological Review 73.6: 921–943.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300603Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Maimon and Kuhl examine the assumptions that high levels of social cohesion (religious, familial, neighborhood, and school integration) are associated with fewer adolescent suicides. Results support traditional Durkheimian assumptions that the proportion of religious conservatives in a neighborhood reduces suicide, as do individual-level controls of school and parental attachment. Furthermore, in places where religion is important, this depressive effect is diminished.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • McLeod, Jane D., and Danielle L. Fettes. 2007. Trajectories of failure: The educational careers of children with mental health problems. American Journal of Sociology 113.3: 653–701.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1086/521849Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      The authors describe patterns of internalizing and externalizing problems from childhood through adolescence. Three mediators explain how these patterns of mental health affect educational achievement: academic aptitude, disruptive behaviors, and educational expectations. Educational expectations are important mediators independent of academic aptitude and disruptive behaviors. Social responses to youths’ mental health problems contribute importantly to their disrupted educational trajectories.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Meadows, Sarah O. 2007. Evidence of parallel pathways: Gender similarity in the impact of social support on adolescent depression and delinquency. Social Forces 85.3: 1143–1167.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/sof.2007.0048Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        This paper proposes parallel pathways between social support (from parents, peers, and schools) and depression in females and delinquency in males. Results show that support from these sources operates in a similar direction for both boys and girls, regardless of outcome. However, some significant differences in the magnitude of these associations exist.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Physical Health

                                                                                                                                                                        Sociologists show that adolescent physical health is affected by many social factors, including family social disadvantage (Wickrama, et al. 2003), early pubertal development (Haynie 2003), individual compliance with contextual norms (Crosnoe and Muller 2004), and amount of sleep (Snell, et al. 2007; Fredriksen, et al. 2004).

                                                                                                                                                                        • Crosnoe, Robert, and Chandra Muller. 2004. Body mass index, academic achievement, and school context: Examining the educational experiences of adolescents at risk of obesity. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 45.4: 393–407.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/002214650404500403Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Theorizing that adolescents function better if their behavior and individual characteristics fit the norms of their contexts, Crosnoe and Muller tested whether obese students would have lower achievement in schools where their weight status was more likely to elicit negative evaluations. Their findings support this theory in schools with higher rates of romantic activity and lower average body size.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Fredriksen, Katia, Jean Rhodes, Ranjini Reddy, and Niobe Way. 2004. Sleepless in Chicago: Tracking the effects of adolescent sleep loss during the middle school years. Child Development 75.1: 84–95.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00655.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Amount of sleep decreases across adolescence. But students who obtained less sleep initially exhibited lower self-esteem and grades, and higher levels of depressive symptoms over time. Girls report more sleep and higher grades initially but experience greater declines in these measures over time, while boys report higher self-esteem initially and greater decline over time.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Haynie, Dana L. 2003. Contexts of risk? Explaining the link between girls’ pubertal development and their delinquency involvement. Social Forces 82.1: 355–397.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2003.0093Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              Haynie investigates connections between early puberty and delinquency among girls, showing that earlier development is associated with drinking, smoking, truancy, and disorderly conduct. Conflict with parents, trust of and autonomy from parents, exposure to peer deviance, and involvement in romantic relationships mediate the puberty-delinquency association.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Snell, Emily K., Emma K. Adam, and Greg J. Duncan. 2007. Sleep and the body mass index and overweight status of children and adolescents. Child Development 78.1: 309–323.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.00999.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This study demonstrates the importance of sleep on youth’s physical health, pointing out the particular importance of sleep for preventing weight problems. Controlling for baseline BMI, Snell and colleagues found that children who sleep less, go to bed later, or get up earlier have higher current and future BMIs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Wickrama, K. A. S., Rand D. Conger, Lora Ebert Wallace, and Glen H. Elder Jr. 2003. Linking early social risks to impaired physical health during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 44.1: 61–74.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/1519816Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Wickrama and colleagues hypothesize that disruptions in the transition to adulthood exacerbate the negative effects of family social disadvantage and adolescent maladjustment on physical health among adolescents. Indeed, their study shows that early risk factors initiate a sequence of negative influences on young adults’ physical health through increased likelihood of teen parenthood, truncated educational attainment, and poor occupational and economic status.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  The topic of achievement has great overlap with the topic of School context. However, the latter focuses on contextual influences, while this section focuses on individual factors. The Johns Hopkins group (Alexander, et al. 2007) has demonstrated the consequences of the summer learning gap, in which poor children fall behind over the course of a calendar year not because of what goes on the classroom but because of what goes on outside it: wealthier parents take their children to organized activities, summer camps, libraries, and traveling. Such parents also maintain higher-level conversations with their children, using more advanced vocabulary. These factors have lasting and cumulative consequences, according to Alexander, et al. 2007. Social networks also help adolescents and their parents make more successful transitions to college (Kim and Schneider 2005). Finally, Herman 2009 examines the achievement gap between ethnic groups, testing both the oppositional culture hypothesis and Mickelson’s theory of concrete and abstract beliefs (Mickelson 1990). Herman shows that ethnic discrimination and oppositional culture do little to explain the gap, but that beliefs about the consequences of school failure or success, along with peer values and racial demographics, do explain the gap.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Alexander, Karl L., Doris R. Entwisle, and Linda Steffel Olson. 2007. Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review 72.2: 167–180.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/000312240707200202Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    In 1998 these authors demonstrated that the supplemental educational services (SES) achievement gap is caused, in large part, by summer learning opportunities in high-SES communities and families (camp, structured activities, travel). Now they document how the gap increases over time: summer learning differences accumulate to account substantially for achievement-related SES differences in high-school track placements, graduation rates, and college attendance.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Herman, Melissa R. 2009. The black-white-other achievement gap: Testing theories of academic performance among multiracial and monoracial adolescents. Sociology of Education 82.1: 20–46.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/003804070908200102Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Contrary to many achievement gap explanations, ethnic identity and ethnic discrimination do not explain academic performance among multiracial or monoracial minority students. Rather, achievement is related to beliefs about consequences of school failure, peer educational values, and racial composition of neighborhoods and schools. Multiracial students who identify as black or Hispanic achieve less than those identifying as white or Asian.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kim, Doo Hwan, and Barbara Schneider. 2005. Social capital in action: Alignment of parental support in adolescents’ transition to postsecondary education. Social Forces 84.2: 1181–1206.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0012Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        This article shows that when parents and adolescents have similar goals, ambitions, and actions, the students’ odds of attending college increase owing to the effects of social capital. They emphasize the complementarity of extra-group ties as social capital through which parents can effectively transfer resources and information to adolescents, enabling them to make informed choices about college.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mickelson, Roslyn A. 1990. The attitude-achievement paradox among black adolescents. Sociology of Education 63: 44–61.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2112896Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mickelson looks at the paradox that many black adolescents express high regard for education but fail to achieve. She distinguishes between “abstract values,” which vary little and do not predict achievement, and “concrete” ones, which vary significantly by race and do predict achievement. Abstract values are nearly universal, such as “education is the way to get ahead in the world,” while concrete values are rooted in life experience, such as “my mother got a degree but she hasn’t advanced at work because of discrimination.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Sexuality and Romantic Relationships

                                                                                                                                                                                          Adolescence is an important period in the development of an individual’s sexual identity and romantic relationships. The impacts are far-reaching, affecting future delinquency, relationships, and mental health. Current research points to peers as having an enormous role in the timing and nature of an adolescent’s first intercourse. Fletcher 2007 shows that an individual’s odds of initiating sexual behavior vary with the average initiation age of his or her peers, along with the individual’s race and gender. Kreager 2008 finds that interracial relationships and peer trouble are positively related, indicating a presence of informal sanctions by peers against interracial relationships, especially when a relationship involves a black student. Though taking a virginity pledge delayed an individual’s first intercourse, Bearman and Bruckner 2001 demonstrates that this holds true only if there are few pledgers. Parents and neighborhoods also factor into sexual initiation: Browning, et al. 2005 reports that parental monitoring and neighborhood collective efficacy significantly delay initial intercourse among urban boys and girls. The nature of the relationship also affects adolescents. Teens with fewer partners and more intimate relationships are more likely to use contraception consistently, according to Manlove, et al. 2007. Researchers have commonly thought that males tend to be less emotionally engaged and more confident in relationships during adolescence than females, but Giordano, et al. 2006 finds that boys reported lower levels of confidence than girls and similar levels of emotional engagement as girls. All these factors (gender, age, peer behavior, parenting, and neighborhood norms) also affect the future behavior of youth. Adolescent romantic love discourages negative future outcomes, such as delinquency, but earlier adolescent sexual activity is related to increasing future criminal behavior. However, McCarthy and Casey 2008 shows that sexual activity within a romantic relationship is associated with lower future criminal behavior. Similarly, Meier 2007 reports that although timing, romantic relationship factors, and gender interacted to affect consequences of initial sexual activity, overall results showed that the majority of adolescents did not experience a decrease in mental health from having sex.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bearman, Peter S., and Hannah Bruckner. 2001. Promising the future: Virginity pledges and first intercourse. American Journal of Sociology 106.4: 859–912.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1086/320295Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Many adolescents take public “virginity” pledges, in which they promise to abstain from sex until marriage. This paper finds that adolescents who pledge are substantially less likely to have intercourse, but only in contexts where pledging is at least partially non-normative. Taking the pledge becomes a significant part of one’s identity in contexts where pledging is partially non-normative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Browning, Christopher R., Tama Leventhal, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2005. Sexual initiation in early adolescence: The nexus of parental and community control. American Sociological Review 70.5: 758–778.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/000312240507000502Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              This study considers the relationship between neighborhood influences and sexual initiation among urban youth. The authors show that neighborhood collective efficacy delays sexual onset only for adolescents who experience lower levels of parental monitoring. Although parental monitoring exerts significantly greater influence on girls’ sexual initiation, the moderating effect of parental monitoring on collective efficacy holds for both genders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Fletcher, Jason M. 2007. Social multipliers in sexual initiation decisions among U. S. high school students. Demography 44.2: 373–388.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/dem.2007.0009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                This study explored the factors that affect an adolescent’s decision to have sex. An individual’s odds of having sex vary with the behavior of his or her peers, gender, and race, which explains the variability of sexual behavior across America. The link between peers’ and an individual’s behavior indicates that changes in school policies could result in changes in the students’ behavior.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Giordano, Peggy C., Monica A. Longmore, and Wendy D. Manning. 2006. Gender and the meanings of adolescent romantic relationships: A focus on boys. American Sociological Review 71.2: 260–287.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/000312240607100205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Contradicting popular normative expectations about gendered experiences in romantic relationships, this study explores male adolescent views on romance and sexuality. Results from structured interviews showed that boys reported lower levels of confidence than girls in several aspects of their romantic relationships, and that girls held greater power and influence in such relationships. But boys and girls reported similar levels of emotional engagement.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kreager, Derek A. 2008. Guarded borders: Adolescent interracial romance and peer trouble at school. Social Forces 87.2: 887–910.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0128Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Assimilation theory argues that intergroup mixing indicates more racial equality, but Kreager shows that adolescents who date interracially are at greater risk of peer conflict and sanctions than those who date their own kind. This is particularly true for students whose interracial romances involve a black partner.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Manlove, Jennifer, Suzanne Ryan, and Kerry Franzetta. 2007. Contraceptive use patterns across teens’ sexual relationships: The role of relationships, partners, and sexual histories. Demography 44.3: 603–621.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/dem.2007.0031Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This study examined contraceptive use and consistency in adolescent relationships. Results showed that use and consistency varied, but teens with more intimate relationships, those with fewer partners, and those who discuss contraception are more likely to use contraception consistently. Teens tend to behave similarly in relationships, so those who have consistently used contraception in the past are more likely to continue doing so.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McCarthy, Bill, and Teresa Casey. 2008. Love, sex, and crime: Adolescent romantic relationships and offending. American Sociological Review 73.6: 944–969.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/000312240807300604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        This study found that although earlier onset of adolescent sexual activity is related to increased criminal behavior, adolescent romantic love is associated with more normative behavior. Furthermore, having sex in the context of a romantic relationship reduces the odds of future crime linked to sexual activity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Meier, Ann M. 2007. Adolescent first sex and subsequent mental health. American Journal of Sociology 112.6: 1811–1847.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/512708Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Because of the alleged risks of adolescent sexual activity cited in legislation promoting abstinence education, Meier explored the mental health consequences of sex among adolescents. Although early sexual activity is associated with lower mental health, this timing interacts with romantic relationship factors and gender. Meier found that the majority of sexually active adolescents did not experience a decrease in mental health.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Morality and Religion

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Studies in this area examine both the effects of morality and religion on youth behavior and the impact of certain factors on religious practice. The behaviors in question are deviance, where Pearce and Haynie 2004 finds that congruence in religiosity between parent and child influences the effect of religiosity on deviance. Meier 2003 shows, not surprisingly, that religious attitudes and behavior are endogenous. Similarly, Eaves, et al. 2008 explores the genetic influences on religious attitudes and finds that they are endogenous and strongly affected by social context.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Eaves, Lindon J., Peter K. Hatemi, Elizabeth C. Prom-Womley, and Lenn Murrelle. 2008. Social and genetic influences on adolescent religious attitudes and practices. Social Forces 86.4: 1621–1646.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/sof.0.0050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Contrary to studies examining adult religious behavior, genetic influences on adolescent attitudes and practices account for only 10 percent of the variance in these outcomes. The social environment accounts for more than 50 percent, and a majority of offspring similarity is explained by child-rearing patterns. The authors discuss the importance of examining genetic and social factors to explain complex social behaviors.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Meier, Ann M. 2003. Adolescents’ transition to first intercourse, religiosity, and attitudes about sex. Social Forces 81.3: 1031–1052.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2003.0039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Meier demonstrates the importance of studying both sides of an endogenous relationship such as the one between religious attitudes and sexual activity. First, she shows that the effect of religiosity on first sex is mediated by attitudes about sex. Second, having sex for the first time has a significant effect on later attitudes, but not on religiosity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Pearce, Lisa D., and Dana L. Haynie. 2004. Intergenerational religious dynamics and adolescent delinquency. Social Forces 82.4: 1553–1572.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/sof.2004.0089Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The more religious mothers and their adolescent children are, the less often the children are delinquent; however, the effect of one’s religiosity depends on the other. When either parent or child is very religious and the other is not, the child’s delinquency increases. Thus, religion can be cohesive when shared among family members, but when unshared, higher adolescent delinquency results.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Several factors affect deviance among youth. Aside from the more obvious ones, such as exposure to violence (Hagan and Foster 2001), others include residential mobility (Haynie and South 2005), labor market opportunities (Bellair and Roscigno 2000), peer interactions, and other kinds of social capital such as family, school, and neighborhood (Wright and Fitzpatrick 2006). Peer interactions in particular seem to have a great effect on future levels of delinquency among youth, affecting future delinquency despite other controlled mediators. The amount and nature of peer contact affects levels of delinquency. Kreager 2004 showed that a minimal amount of close peer contact with deviant peers in and of itself is not significantly related to future delinquency, but that when combined with negative peer interactions at school, such contact increased delinquency. Studies also show that characteristics of the friendship networks themselves, such as density, centrality, and popularity, have an effect on delinquency (Haynie 2001). Network density appears to be an important factor: The denser the network, the stronger the delinquency-peer association. Similarly, Haynie and South 2005 finds that residential mobility is associated with future violence, with association with delinquent peers being the most important mediating factor. However, Haynie and Osgood 2005 shows that peer contact does not mediate the influence of gender, family, or school context. In a bid to explain deviance from an interactional perspective, Hagan, et al. 2005 examines the relationship between race and perceptions of criminal injustice. That study shows differences between minority and white youth in terms of their reaction to police contact and perceptions of criminal injustice. The percentage of white youth in an area is positively correlated with perceptions of injustice among Latino and African American youth. The study argues that reduced police contact and effective integration at school could prove helpful in reducing perceptions of criminal injustice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bellair, Paul E., and Vincent J. Roscigno. 2000. Local labor-market opportunity and adolescent delinquency. Social Forces 78.4: 1509–1538.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bellair and Roscigno’s findings suggest strong effects of low-wage service-sector concentration and unemployment on the likelihood of both fighting and drug use among adolescents. These effects are mediated by family income, family intactness, and adolescent attachment to parents and school. However, low-wage service-sector size and unemployment effects on adolescent delinquency persist even with such mediators controlled.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hagan, John, and Holly Foster. 2001. Youth violence and the end of adolescence. American Sociological Review 66.6: 874–899.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/3088877Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hagan and Foster hypothesize that experiencing or observing violence in an intimate relationship causes contemporaneous and long-term health risks of depression and premature transition to adulthood. They find that violence in intimate relationships results in depressed feelings, teenage pregnancy, running away from home, suicide ideation, and school dropout, particularly among girls.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hagan, John, Monique R. Payne, and Carla Shedd. 2005. Race, ethnicity, and youth perceptions of criminal injustice. American Sociological Review 70.3: 381–407.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/000312240507000302Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This examines the relationship between race and perception of criminal injustice. Though there are slight differences in perception between African American and Latino youth, they are more similar than white youth. As the white population increases, perceived criminal injustice among African Americans and Latinos initially increases, but then subsides. Lowering police contact and effective school integration are important in decreasing perceived injustices.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Harris, Kathleen Mullan, Greg J. Duncan, and Johanne Boisjoly. 2002. Evaluating the role of “nothing to lose” attitudes on risky behavior in adolescence. Social Forces 80.3: 1005–1039.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/sof.2002.0008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article examines the extent to which adolescents’ expectations about their future health and attainment affect their risk-taking behaviors, such as early sexual intercourse, selling drugs, and using weapons. Although results provide mixed support for the “nothing to lose” hypothesis, the authors find school-level effects of “school climate” that influence adolescent risk-taking behavior more than school measures of supplemental educational services (SES).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Haynie, Dana L. 2001. Delinquent peers revisited: Does network structure matter? American Journal of Sociology 106.4: 1013–1057.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/320298Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Haynie examines the characteristics of adolescents’ friendship networks (e.g., network density and adolescents’ centrality and popularity within the network) and how these factors affect the link between friends’ and individual’s delinquency. Haynie found higher peer-delinquency associations in denser networks and argues that studying the nature of peer networks is important to understanding connections between friends’ and individual’s delinquency.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Haynie, Dana L., and D. Wayne Osgood. 2005. Reconsidering peers and delinquency: How do peers matter? Social Forces 84.2: 1109–1130.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0018Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The normative influence from peers is not as strong as previous studies claim, and that normative influence remains unchanged by amount of time spent with peers or level of attachment. Opportunity is an important factor in predicting deviance, and it is not related to normative influence. The peer context does not mediate the influences of age, gender, family, or school.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Haynie, Dana L., and Scott J. South. 2005. Residential mobility and adolescent violence. Social Forces 84.1: 361–374.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2005.0104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This study examines how parent-child relationships, psychological distress, victimization, and peer networks account for the relationship between residential mobility and violent behavior. The authors focus on how adolescent friendship networks, including both structural characteristics and behavioral composition, transmit the detrimental effects of residential mobility. Residential mobility is associated with violence, and association with deviant peers is an important mediating factor.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Kreager, Derek A. 2004. Strangers in the halls: Isolation and delinquency in school networks. Social Forces 83.1: 351–390.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1353/sof.2004.0117Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Social isolation in and of itself does not increase future delinquency, but this in conjunction with negative peer encounters and low peer attachment is significantly associated with delinquency and delinquent peer associations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Wright, Darlene R., and Kevin M. Fitzpatrick. 2006. Social capital and adolescent violent behavior: Correlates of fighting and weapon use among secondary school students. Social Forces 84.3: 1435–1495.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0077Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This paper studies the importance of social capital on violent behavior in adolescents. Social capital, especially parent-child relationships and school affiliation, is very important in mediating the level of violence. Although the authors hypothesized that involvement in sports and extracurricular activities would decrease violent tendencies, they did not find evidence of such a relationship.

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