"Capitalism, the Family, and Juvenile Delinquency," Nature, Society, and Thought, Vol. 1 (Fall 1987), pp. 47-66.

by Gordon Welty
Wright State University
Dayton, OH 45435

[/47] It has been widely recognized that very little of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' voluminous writing addresses the topics of crime and criminal justice. What they did write on these topics is insightful, but seems more of the nature of occasional pieces than systematic study. If Marx and Engels wrote little on crime, they wrote next to nothing on the topic of juvenile crime and delinquency./1/ Regarding the content of Marx and Engels' writings which has relevance for criminology, Ian Taylor, et al. held that "we are more likely to find it in Marx's general theory than we are in the more specific statements" (1973:219). Their judgment is especially appropriate for the topic of juvenile delinquency and youth crime.

A renewed interest in Marxist criminology has emerged during the past decade or so. Many of the writings of Marxist and `critical' criminologists have focussed somewhat one-sidedly on the repressive role of law enforcement institutions and the state apparatus in serving the interests of property./2/

But a Marxist criminology must seek to account for the `other half' of class society as well -- the historical and material conditions of the working class, which contribute to the behavior which is defined as criminal. This essay proposes to do that, with special reference to youth crime and juvenile delinquency.

From a structural standpoint, crime and delinquency in capitalist society are remarkably restricted in their incidence by age and gender. Keeping in mind all that we know about the politics of crime reporting, it can still be asserted that most crime is committed by young people, i.e. people between 14 and 24 years of age. Most crime is also committed by males./3/

A methodological point follows: the `critical' explanation of crime and delinquency must not prejudice the study of gender and age factors by making sexist assumptions (e.g. about `masculinity' and `femininity')/4/ nor reify age and maturational variables. The `critical' explanation, if it is true to its program, must [47/48] then be wholly and radically social. In that sense an historical-materialist analysis of juvenile delinquency and youth crime may also contribute to the development of the `critical' standpoint in criminology.

In this paper, we will assess evidence and arguments on behalf of five propositions. (i) Capitalist society requires at least one pre-capitalist institution, namely the family. (ii) Family does not articulate well with capitalist institutions. (iii) One important point of disarticulation is the division of labor; in family life the sexual division of labor is primary, while it tends to be derivative in the world of capitalist production. (iv) This disarticulation makes the transition from family life to the world of work difficult under capitalism, especially for adolescents. (v) Adolescents seek to cope with the transition through gender-differentiated role-modelling; the relative unavailability of other role models for adolescent males leads them disproportionally to model their roles in terms which are defined as criminal or delinquent.

This essay will comprise only a modest sketch of an explanation of the gender-differences and the age-differences in delinquency rates in the United States. A more developed theory of these differences would of course fully explicate concepts and relationships, which is beyond the scope of the present essay. A theory of the contents of that behavior which is defined as delinquent, moreover, would not only be more developed, but would be substantially different. It would take into account the politics of crime reporting, the sexism which makes adolescent girls appear to be more prone to status offenses while adolescent boys appear to commit more violent crimes, the racism which makes life in the suburbs less `visible' and that of the ghetto more `visible,' and so forth. A Marxist criminology certainly can and should aspire to such a theory.

Finally, we have decided not to devote a separate section of this paper to a review of the voluminous literature on juvenile delinquency and youth crime. Admirable reviews are readily available from both the `critical' standpoint (Taylor et al, 1973) and the feminist standpoint (Smart, 1977). We will refer to the literature sparingly, as needed in the development of our argument.

The several approaches to what has traditionally been called the "Woman Question" can be subsumed under one of three logical possibilities. One, radical feminism, asserts that domination in the sphere of production, capitalism, depends upon domination in the [48/49] sphere of reproduction, patriarchy -- the primordial form of domination. Another, the approach to be taken in this paper, asserts that capitalism may presuppose patriarchy -- which is indeed primordial -- but that patriarchal oppression has come to be subordinate to capitalist exploitation. A third, the dual-system approach, maintains that the system of production has its material conditions, namely one group's domination over the labor-power or -product of another group. The corresponding system of reproduction has its own material conditions, namely men's domination over the labor-power, offspring, and sexuality of women. The two systems are mutually interdependent, in a relation of parity. Let us devote some comments to this third approach, which amounts to theoretical eclecticism.

A well-known example of this approach is Heidi Hartmann's analysis, which argues that "the whole of society can [only] be understood by looking at both ... production and reproduction" (198:17). And what is the material base of the latter? She tells us that men's domination over "women's access to resources and their sexuality allows men to control women's labor power, both for the purposes of serving men in many personal and sexual ways and for the purpose of rearing children" (1981:15). It should be observed that Hartmann is hereby reducing familial relations and the gender hierarchy to an otherwise unanalysed concept of male dominance./5/ This method reifies the concept; it is contrary to the method of historical materialism. A similar shortcoming in criminology today is the tendency to reduce explanations of delinquent behavior to such a biologistic or psychologistic `causal' factor.

Hartmann continues "the partnership of patriarchy and capital was not inevitable" (1981:19). We will argue instead that the relationship between appropriately specified capitalist institutions and the pre-capitalist (hence patriarchal) family is precisely necessary -- that is the relationship is (and was) as inevitable as the historical and material conditions which determine the emergence of capitalism. Moreover, rather than asserting the parity of the two aspects of the relationship, we will argue that the family is a dependent institution. There is no parity.

The first consideration must be the basis of obligations of the capitalist system to retain a pre-capitalist institution in its midst. As Claus Offe has expressed it, "a society organized by means of exchange relationships can never be organized solely through exchange relations. Even in a purely competitive capitalist social system, individuals must be socialized in normative structures. A society [49/50] based on market exchange cannot function without the family system" (1984:38). We will explicate Offe's statement, and then explain why the "normative structure" which is required for capitalism must be a pre-capitalist institution.

An essential characteristic of capitalism is the exploitative relation of capital towards labor within the value form. This is what it means to speak of "a society organized by means of exchange relationships." Under the competitive capitalist conditions of the nineteenth century but even more so under contemporary finance capitalist conditions the magnitude of the product of this relationship (i.e. surplus value) dictates the conditions of labor and the work process.

For there to be capitalist relations -- for there to be a capitalist society at all -- there must be laborers. But there is also one thing which cannot be produced under the calculating, impersonal regime of capital; capitalism "can never be organized solely through exchange relations." The one thing which cannot be produced capitalistically is the person, the child./6/ And every laborer is a person. The requirements of socialization -- the existence of one or more nurturing Others for the child -- are antithetical to capitalistic enterprise. As Offe has put it, "individuals must be socialized in normative structures."

The form of remuneration of the nurturant Other is not the obstacle to socialization under capitalism; the obstacle is rather capitalistic calculation and exploitation. Furthermore, the requirement of a nurturant Other is gender-neutral. It is not the sex of the childcare-giver which is at issue; it is the capitalistic negation of the very conditions of childcare-giving.

Capitalism requires human labor but cannot reproduce laborers capitalistically. Therefore capitalist society is obliged to retain a non-capitalistic institution at the heart of its system of societal reproduction; it "cannot function without the family system." Thus far Offe.

This non-capitalistic institution can logically take a pre-capitalist form or a post-capitalist form. Given those logical possibilities, the outcome cannot be in doubt. Capital cannot tolerate the existence in our midst of an institution which represents a superior social formation./7/ Hence capital retains and reinforces the pre-capitalist institution with its associated patriarchal relations and oppression of women and youth. This, despite the possible incongruities of the two orders. The rest of us, in contrast to capital, lack the resources to generate and sustain a new domestic institution. It is all we can do to survive in our present pre-capitalist domestic arrangements.[50/51]

At this point, a methodological comment is in order. We have argued that a necessary relationship obtains between capitalist society and an institution of the patriarchal order, the family. Some radical feminists hold moreover that capitalism is itself intrinsically patriarchal./8/

This sort of claim is not necessary for our argument. On the one hand, there is a profound identification problem to ascertain the patriarchal versus gender-neutral status of `pure' capitalism. On the other hand, we believe that it is sufficient for our argument to acknowledge the actuality of capitalism's patriarchal presuppositions, and to proceed with our analysis in terms of the logic of capitalist production. Moreover, this permits us to provide an explanation of gender differences in youth crime and juvenile delinquency rates which does not depend upon a reified concept of primordial `male bonding.'

Given that the family is necessary for capitalism, the articulation of familial with capitalist institutions must still be examined. To what degree do all these institutions constitute a congruous whole? A well-known study by Wm. Goode (1963) is frequently taken as providing an affirmative answer to this question. Yet his study does not demonstrate that the modern family -- what Goode calls the "conjugal family" -- articulates well with the capitalist social order -- what Goode calls "industrialization." Instead it modestly argues that the modern family has a more adequate "fit" with the capitalist order, when compared to that of the extended family. Let us instead consider the disarticulation -- the lack of congruity, if you will -- of the family with capitalist institutions./9/

This disarticulation manifests itself at a number of points:

(a) The family and capitalist institutions have different historical and material conditions. Consider their respective histories. The earliest capitalist enterprises emerged in Renaissance Italy (Cox, 1987, Chap. 15; Cohen, 1980). By contrast, the family emerged millennia ago with the rise of private property, class antagonism, and the state./10/ Indeed, on some accounts the family emerged even earlier -- millions of years ago -- with the first recognizably human beings./11/

(b) The social relations of capitalist production differ substantially from those of intra- and inter-generational reproduction. Capitalist production tends to reduce all relations -- especially exploitative relations -- to one form, the value form. All capitalist relations are modelled upon the wage relationship between capital and labor. By [51/52] contrast, familial relations tend towards a variety rather than a unity of form, a multiplicity which reflects the `natural' relations between the sexes and between the generations. Exploitation as well as nurturance tend to be embodied in these various relations./12/

(c) Therefore the institutionalization of the capitalist enterprise differs from that of the family. This is evident in the structure of laws and of norms. Where the capitalist enterprise is designed to limit the liability of proprietors, the institution of the family serves to enhance the responsibility of parents. Where the boundaries of the capitalist enterprise tend to be well defined, to permit control of inputs and outputs (including the externalizing of costs), the boundaries of the family tend to be blurred by degrees of kinship, ties of affinity, etc.

(d) The resulting consciousness and its objectivizations (culture) reflect all these differences. In the family, consciousness tends to be affectively rich, multifaceted, and enduring -- what has come to be called the consciousness and the culture of the primary group. Of course this affect needs not be positive; the prevalence of domestic violence attests to negative affect (Straus et al, 1980). In the capitalist institution, by contrast, consciousness tends to be affectively neutral, one-dimensional, and transitory -- what has been called the consciousness and culture of the secondary group.

The disarticulation we are addressing is thus inclusive of social disorganization, but broader in scope. It includes social problems such as the `broken home,' teenage pregnancy, etc. For instance, much research has focussed upon the relationship between the `broken home' and juvenile delinquency./13/ As we shall see, the `broken home' is one outcome of the disarticulation between the family and capitalist institutions.

One of the most significant points of disarticulation between the family and capitalist institutions is their respective divisions of labor. Let us draw two contrasts: first between the situations in the pre-capitalist and capitalist forms of antagonistic society, then between the situations in the domestic sphere and the workplace in capitalism.

With the advent of private property, the family became the locus of both a division of labor between the sexes, and sexual inequality. Murdock and Provost summarize their analysis of a representative sample of the world's societies as follows: "the general principle applies that greater technological complexity is associated with a shift in sexual allocation of the more complex tasks from [52/53] females to males" (1973, p. 216). So long as residence and workplace coincided -- through ancient slave and medieval feudal forms of antagonistic society -- the sexual division of labor prevailed throughout most if not all spheres of human activity. Men's activity was differentiated from women's activity, but the economic value of each was recognized./14/

Capitalist society, by contrast, is characterized by the vicinal separation of residence and workplace. This social division of labor reinforces the already established sexual division of labor in the domestic sphere. Not only are men's and women's activities differentiated, but they are physically separated as well. This doubly determined division of labor has had profound consequences for the position of women in capitalist society.

The division of labor within the capitalist workplace developed along quite other lines than that of the sexual division of labor. The development of capitalism is a continuing process of the expansion and the deepening of the division of labor. Labor becomes ever more specialized, even to the point that it becomes co-extensive with its tools. And that specialization and mechanization quickly escapes the bounds of gender differences. As noted above, capitalist production is the creation of commodities, hence its products have a price, an index of value. The value of any commodity is determined by the labor time which is socially necessary to produce that commodity. The value of a commodity is moreover realized through exchange; it is given recognition in its price. From the standpoint of capitalism, labor power -- just as any commodity -- tends to be remunerated at its value, and qualitative distinctions such as the kind of labor or the gender of the laborer matters little within the value form. The sexual division of labor was imposed upon modern industry rather than developing out of the logic of capitalist production. The participants in the disvalued activities of the domestic sphere came to be disvalued as participants in the capitalist sphere (cf. Gove, 1972).

Hence there is a substantial disarticulation between the division of labor established within the capitalist sphere and the sexual division of labor within the domestic sphere. On the one hand, this incongruity has been moderated by the interpenetration of the differing divisions of labor. On the other hand, the remaining disarticulation of family life and the world of work is the occasion of social disorganization and social problems.

Let us first consider how interpenetration has moderated the incongruity. The sexual division of labor tended to distort the specialization of labor in the workplace, while specialization has [53/54] transformed the sexual division of labor in family life. There is good historical evidence which suggests that capitalists were not gender-neutral in their hiring practices; they continually sought to employ and overwork women and even children, instead of employing men. In part this reflects the individual capitalist's interest in remunerating labor below its value; in part this reflects capital's interest in employing more tractible labor. There is also good evidence which suggests that women have become increasingly liberated from rigidly defined sex-roles as they have become wage laborers (Mason, et al, 1976:582-83; Morgan and Walker, 1983:150).

But there is no reason to concur with Freda Adler's contention that "juvenile girls followed their elders into deviancy in some areas and led them in others" as a result of whatever emancipation women have achieved since the Second World War (1975:248; also 92 ff). Evidence collected from a wide range of sources does not support Adler's contention./15/ Indeed, we will argue that the role of `emancipated woman' may be directly competitive with the role of delinquent woman.

In any case, a substantial incongruity between the divisions of labor remains. This is reflected in the evidence on spouse and child abuse. A national survey of domestic violence in American society found that among the predictive characteristics of violent couples were the social class of the spouses (reflecting the social division of labor), and whether or not the wife was a full-time housewife (reflecting the sexual division of labor). In case both spouses were `manual laborers,' for instance, the wife tended to beat her husband; this was the response to an `equality of the purse.' In case she was a full- time housewife, the husband beat the wife; this was the response to her economic dependency (Straus et al, 1980:203-207).

The adolescent's transition from family life to the world of work is difficult under capitalism. There are several aspects to this transition. One is the transition from pre-employment status to the status of laborer -- whether employed or a member of the reserve army of the unemployed -- and the concomitant development of work habits. Another aspect is neo-localism -- the establishment of a new household. A third is the transition from the consanguine family (what some call the family of orientation) to the conjugal family (the family of procreation). All of these aspects are closely associated with each other; let us consider each in turn.[54/55]

The transition from the status of pre-employed to laborer -- sometimes called "the transition from school to work" -- is the principal aspect which must be mentioned with respect to capitalism. This transition was less difficult under pre-capitalist conditions. There a son took up his father's occupation, as a daughter took up her mother's. Acquiring job-related knowledge and skills occurred as part of one's socialization within the family. Unemployment was unknown. Today it is quite different. The transition begins in the mid-teens for the young male, for example, and ends by the mid-twenties. Young workers are characteristically relegated to unskilled or semi-skilled jobs. The employer maintains that these are commensurate with the young worker's lack of work experience and immature work habits; the young worker maintains they are psychically and financially unrewarding. In any case, these tend to be the least attractive jobs in the market. The typical young worker changes jobs several times during the transitional period. The unemployment rate for workers in the transitional age-group is double or triple that of the work-force as a whole.

By the late twenties, the worker's job-changing rate, and unemployment rate, declines sharply. The "dull compulsion of economic relations" has prevailed (Marx, 1967:737). The transition is completed; the mature worker is now subjected to unemployment at rates which approximate that of the national work-force./16/

High school is viewed as an institution which mediates between family life and the world of work. But the high school's mediating role is flawed under capitalism. School boards, which establish educational policy for the high schools, are dominated by capitalist interests. From the capitalist side, the curriculum is consistently distorted in the direction of stressing particularistic content rather than generalized principles and modes of problem solving. This is useful for the local capitalist, who can lay off older workers and replace them with semi-literate young workers. But the young workers are ill- prepared to deal with rapid technological and social change.

School boards and high school administrators are also responsive to parents. From the familial side the curriculum is constantly being purged of "value content," again stressing particularistic content. Darwin and Shakespeare are out, Genesis and Cherry Ames are in. This may be reassuring to the parents -- themselves ill-prepared for parenting -- who thereby need not acknowledge the problems their children confront on entering adult life in America. But the young adults find themselves deprived of an understanding of life choices which confront them -- beginning with the rudiments [55/56] of sex hygiene and reproductive freedom. This, despite the fact that half of young U.S. adults were already sexually active as teenagers.

Next, consider the problems of establishing a new household. Most American children and youth are raised in relatively immobile families. Of course this implies that most adult Americans also have relatively immobile residency patterns. Over the past century, over two-thirds of Americans resided in the same state in which they were born. Moreover, approximately half of all heads of households between the ages of forty-five and fifty-nine live in the same Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area or county where they found their first job. Changes of residence, when they do occur, affect a very specific age cohort. That cohort is young adults, people in the transitional period from mid-teens to mid-twenties, whose migration rate is double or triple the national rate (Hawley, 1971:177). Thus most people tend to be residentially immobile during their youth, change residence during their young adulthood, and subsequently tend to return to relative immobility.

The change of residence by young adults involves the establishment of a new household. There are two sets of evidence which suggest that this is difficult under capitalism. In the first place, there is the straightforward fact that people tend not to move. In the second place, to the extent we have systematic data on the topic, it is precisely the young adults who are moving who express dissatisfaction with their housing./17/

Anticipatory socialization for the change of residence is inadequate under capitalism. High-school students live with their consanguine family, hence have limited experience with the process of establishing a new household. Their peer-group experiences all presuppose their consanguine families, which becomes a source of shared stress.

Finally let us consider the problem of family formation. The process of serial monogamy is constituted by the relationship of two factors: the first is heterosexual attraction based on lust; the second is attachment based on identification. Attraction develops quickly and then tends to decline, while attachment tends to develop more slowly and monotonically. The tendency to monogamy depends upon the couple's interaction enduring until attachment exceeds attraction. The tendency to seriation depends upon the rapidity with which attraction develops, in sharp contrast to attachment.

The high school promotes serial monogamy as a cultural value of the highest priority. Given the lack of sex education for youth in [56/57] the United States, the majority of young women first learn about birth control alternatives after their first pregnancy. The crucial question is whether the interaction between two adolescents or young adults can endure until attachment occurs -- assuming that it will occur -- or whether an unplanned pregnancy will intrude into the process. Single motherhood among teenagers is a serious problem in the United States today, with some million pregnancies a year. The infants are at greater risk for a whole series of health problems, and pregnancy and the subsequent family responsibilities place an enormous burden on the unprepared teenager (Baldwin and Cain, 1980). Of course this does not mean that marriage dictated by unplanned pregnancy must be viewed as desirable./18/ But the dialectic of lust and love is not the only consideration in family formation.

For many years, it has been argued that the marriage rate was correlated with the upturn of the business cycle (Yule, 1906; Kirk, 1960). This was the foundation of a rosy interpretation of the future of capitalist society: even in the worst of times, one could anticipate a business cycle upturn, followed by the pairing up of youth in marital bliss, finding a `haven in a heartless world.' Now it appears that not only family formation but family dissolution as well are correlated with the business cycle (Inkeles, 1984). This means that not only is family life incongruous with the world of work, but that the family is indeed what Marx and Engels called a "subordinate" institution (1975, Vol. 5:43; also Waton, 1926:310). Young adults living in capitalist society rush into marriage under the dictates of the business cycle, and then, six to eight years later, as the expansion becomes a downturn -- assuming an unplanned pregnancy has not disturbed things even further -- they rush into divorce, again under the dictates of the business cycle. What an economistic interpretation this suggests for The Seven Year Itch!

In sum, the transition from family life to the world of work is difficult under capitalism. It is difficult to find and keep a job, it is disorienting to seek a new residence, and it is difficult to establish and maintain an enduring family. These problems would be serious enough taken singly at any time in one's maturity. They are especially problematic when they tend to coincide in the period just before maturity. Yet this is the social reality for American adolescents and young adults.

Within this historical and materialist context, the process which leads to delinquent behavior on the part of particular groups and [57/58] persons can now be addressed. This requires some discussion, albeit highly schematic, of the concept of the person. We conceptualize the person in relational terms: the person is the nexus of social relations. The individual actors in this context are aware of themselves; they are self-conscious, which is also a relationship. In each case the actor is at once an "I", which is the active subject, and a "me", which is an object of action, the bearer of the self's biography. This dialectical analysis of the constituents of the self is well-known in the writings of George Herbert Mead,/19/ but in fact has a much older heritage, dating back to Adam Smith, G.W.F. Hegel, and Ludwig Feuerbach./20/

This tradition's conception of the person seems to be particularly suitable./21/ In the first place, it has proved fruitful in the interactionist study of delinquent behavior,/22/ -- the relationship of Mead's thought, for instance, to the writing of Edwin Sutherland is well known (Cressey, 1962:444). In the second place, this conception makes no sexist assumptions about the person -- in contrast, say, to the Freudian or Parsonsian conceptions./23/ Thus it does not prejudice the analysis of gender differences in delinquent behavior. Finally, this conception is compatible with the historical materialism which informs our study of the social context./24/

This self identifies itself in terms of an imputed and avowed set of names and labels -- i.e. personal and common names -- which represent the self's public "identity" as well as its private "self-concept." But the self rarely discloses itself fully; indeed it is considered a mark of maturity to be able to dissemble, to be diplomatic. The self manifests itself strategically in its personae -- where the self as a whole is revealed only in part; or it manifests itself in a role -- where only an aspect of the self is revealed, although that aspect rather fully. The repertoire of strategies and roles -- the constituents of social behavior -- is learned, and is incorporated in the "me" aspect of the self (Adam Smith, 1976:110 ff; Mead, 1982:67 ff).

Given relatively stable social conditions, a reasonable coping strategy is to model one's own role on that of one's peers. Indeed, just as the "I" and the "me" are the constituents of the self in Mead's intrapersonal analysis, so the self and the Other are the constituents of social interaction in Mead's interpersonal analysis, learning in the primary group from the role enactments of the other (Mead, 1982:56 ff). Only a role can be modelled, since it is but an aspect of the self and can be abstracted. A persona, by contrast, is too organically linked to the individual self to be abstracted (cf. Mead, 1982:178).[58/59]

Confronted by the social disorganization which characterizes the transition from family life to the world of work under capitalism, groups and persons must respond by enacting a variety of innovative roles. The state apparatus, for reasons of its own, proscribes some of these roles. Reasons of state reflect the interests of property and only incidentally reflect the interests of youth and their social class. Hence the proscriptions tend to be perceived by the adolescent as arbitrary and unpredictable.

The more protracted the transitional period for a given group or person, the greater the variety of roles, and the greater the likelihood that an offense will occur. Given these conditions of uncertainty, a reasonable coping strategy is to model one's own role on a `successful' role -- the behavior of someone or a member of a group that is perceived as coping well with the transition. That will most likely not include one's own peers, who are also confronting the uncertainty of the transition, and who are also seeking new role models.

These new role models are selected from a variety of such role models and reference groups which differ from each other along the dimensions of their distance, their social status, their gender, their attractiveness, etc. with respect to the adolescents. These dimensions are the basis of an assessment of the relative salience -- the centrality or significance in terms of personal or collective values -- of the role models for the adolescents. Adolescents tend to identify with the most salient role model and attempt to include that role in their repertoire (Mead, 1982:77-78). This identification provides for a continuity between role model and adolescent role which facilitates the transition from family life.

Let us briefly sketch some of the non-peer role models which can be available to adolescents. We will mention seven female role models, and five male role models. There are several provisos. First, our list is intended to be more suggestive than definitive, so other role models may be included, and each role model may be specified further into sub-models, such as "perpetrator," "accessory," and "conspirator" sub-models of the delinquency role. Next, the sheer number of role models which might be available is not as important as their salience. Thus two or three relatively salient role models make for greater choice than four or five more distant ones. Finally, these models are intended to reflect adolescents' judgment of salience, not our judgment of the relative emancipation of the role. That task is the responsibility of a social movement, not our youth, and it must clearly be recognized as such.[59/60]

There are four female role models, one or several of which tend to be more salient for most adolescent girls in capitalist society. One is the girl's mother; the other three are young adult women. These include young housewives (usually with children), young working wives (perhaps with children), and young working singles. For instance, the role of young mother, whether employed in wage labor or not, is salient in good part because her domestic `occupation' is almost immediately fruitful. Within a year of marriage, she will typically have the highly visible and attractive byproduct of her role -- a baby.

Three other role models tend to be less salient for adolescent girls. These include young single mothers, college students, and female delinquents. These models tend to `vanish' from the purview of the adolescent girl: unwed mothers because of the severity of their isolation, the college student -- especially if she goes away to school -- because of the unfamiliarity of her academic world, and female delinquents because of their rarity.

The five male role models include the boy's father, the young worker (with "married" and "single" sub-models), the college student, the military enlistee, and the young adult delinquent -- the `Pied Piper'. In capitalist society, most male role models tend to be more distant from adolescent boys when compared to the distance of female role models from adolescent girls. This is due to several factors; principal ones are the unfamiliarity of the father's world of work and the more protracted transition period of the young adult male. By the time the young adult male has found work, wife, and home, he is well into his twenties. He tends to `vanish' under the weight of his new responsibilities.

The young woman in America marries at twenty; the adolescent girls in her former high school may remember her as a junior or senior. Identification and continuity are facilitated. The young man marries past twenty-two; he was graduated from high school before the presently enrolled adolescents got there. Thus he has `vanished' from the purview of the adolescent boys in more than one sense of the word. And the enlistee and the college student have vanished as well.

Under these conditions, a peculiar role model becomes more salient to the young male adolescent, by default. We will call this the "Pied Piper" model. He is an Outsider, a young adult who does not appear to be established with respect to job, with respect to women, with respect to residence. On the one hand, the greater distance between the adolescent and the other male role models provides a `space' -- an aperture if you will -- for the role of the [60/61] Pied Piper. On the other hand, there is a distinct continuity -- hence basis for identification -- between the social role of the adolescent and that of the Pied Piper. And that identification tends to lead to the enacting of a role or roles which have been defined as delinquent.

*     *    *

Let us conclude with an assessment of what some would refer to as the `policy implications' of our argument. We have maintained that juvenile delinquency is the result of an intrinsic aspect of capitalist society, the problematic articulation of the pre-capitalist family with capitalist institutions. Very little can be done to rectify this disarticulation within the terms of capitalist society. This disarticulation particularly affects persons in the transitional period from adolescence to young adulthood. Likewise, there is little reason to believe that social policy can do much to meliorate the impact of this disorganization, nor to shift its incidence from youth to more mature persons. Adolescents thereupon tend to seek new role models, and tend to model their behavior on non-peers, those who appear to have `successfully' completed the transition. In effect, they are responding to the dictate of civil society: everyone must assume that they are on their own, and make do as best they can in terms of whatever role models they can find. Because of the differential availability of such role models for adolescent boys and girls, boys are more likely to model their behavior on a transitional role model which has been officially proscribed, that of the Pied Piper, and thereby to enact delinquent behavior. Our conclusion, then, concurs with that of Greenberg (1977). The problem of juvenile delinquency can of course be better understood by those affected by it, and a book or article may contribute to this understanding. But the resolution of the problem of delinquency awaits social and economic reorganization of a most fundamental kind.


1. Cf. Marx (1967:291).

2. This judgment might be appropriate for some of my earlier work; cf. e.g. Ajay and Welty (1971); Welty (1975). [61/62]

3. This is illustrated by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports of homicide. The modal age for the male arrest rate in 1974 was nineteen; a decade later, in 1984 it was eighteen. The male and female arrest rates for homicide differed by an order of magnitude.

4. Cf. L.S. Smith (1978).

5. Cf. also Taylor et al, (1973:241).

6. Cf. Dickinson and Russell (1985:7); also Blumenfeld and Mann (1980:290-302).

7. Cf. Davis (1981:232 and Chap. 13).

8. Katie Stewart, for example, employs the concept of male bonding to focus on "the central political relations of gender domination and subordination" (1981:302). She continues characteristically that capitalism "must be understood not simply as an economic structure which exploits workers' labor." Instead, she reduces everything to `male bonding,' concluding, for example, that "working class men's class solidarity is effected by their solidarity as men" (1981:303). The affinities to the work of Lionel Tiger are evident (cf. 1969:111-115).

9. It should be stressed at the onset that our discussion of this disarticulation of institutions does not depend upon Ferdinand Toennies' celebrated distinction of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. On the one hand, we maintain against Toennies that some pre-capitalist (i.e. gemeinschaftliche) institutions such as the family necessarily survive under capitalist (i.e. gesellschaftliche) conditions (cf. also Janowitz, 1978:31 ff, 222-23, 282-83). On the other hand, as Georg Luka'cs has stressed, one cannot simply juxtapose the primitive community to class society (1981:596).

10. See Afanasyev (1980:277-78).

11. See Habermas (1979:134-36); also Lovejoy (1981).

12. See the discussion of "parental exploitation" in Elkind (1967).

13. Cf. Platt (1977).

14. Speaking of the woman in`primitive societies,' Olive Schreiner observed that "the part she played in the communal life was all important; as a social laborer she often, if not always, exceeded the male in value" (1923:209). See also Schreiner (1923:211).

15. Cf. Steffensmeier and Steffensmeier (1980).

16. Cf. Freedman (1969).

17. Cf. Campbell et al (1976:152). For instance, in the 1975 [62/63] Gallup "State of Mankind" Survey, Question #53 asked "how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your present housing?" Of the U.S. respondents, those under thirty expressed the least satisfaction; those over fifty expressed greatest satisfaction. The same distribution was expressed by the Canadian respondents (cf. also Gallup, 1976:427 ff).

18. Cf. Hartman (1977).

19. Cf. Mead (1982:53 ff).

20. Cf. A. Smith (1976); Schott (1976), also Welty (1986); Feuerbach (1957, Chap. 1).

21. Cf. also Naffin (1981:81 ff).

22. Cf. A. Smith (1976:81 ff); also Mead (1982:78).

23. See, however, Naffin (1981:84).

24. Cf. Goff (1980).


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