Adam Monroe Stearn


Simon Singer


Donna M. Bishop, Marc Swatt

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern Univeristy

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department or Academic Unit

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice


Adolescence, Middle-Class, Post-Modern, Subcultures, Theory


Criminology and Criminal Justice


In order to understand adolescents, criminologists have looked to cultural theories of adolescence. These cultural theories emphasize adolescent norms and values and draw on the term subcultural to denote how delinquency can be explained among segments of youths. They tend to focus either on impoverished inner-city youths or youths without any class affiliation. Few studies have examined the extent to which adolescent subcultures exist in the middle-class and what these subcultures might look like. The subcultural study of adolescence has also shifted from criminology to the realm of sociology resulting in the role of delinquency all but being ignored. Thus, theorists are left to wonder: The extent to which middle-class subcultures exist, and what role delinquency plays in them? The current research addressed this question by focusing on both qualitative (content of personal webpages) and quantitative (survey questions) data. The website postings come from a current social networking site and provide the researcher with personal descriptions, written interactions with other youth, and descriptions of delinquency. The survey questions stem from a survey conducted among adolescents in a largely affluent community. Both data sets were drawn upon to relate adolescent subcultural identities. In addition, the analyses examined self-reported delinquency and the relationship between identity, delinquency, and experiences within the various life domains, such as the family unit, peer groups, and school. The results of these analyses suggest that the average adolescent residing in a middle-class neighborhood identifies with multiple subcultures while at the same time stressing his or her individuality. In addition, the adolescent drifts in and out of these subcultural identities based on the life domain he or she is in. Finally, deviance--most commonly the consumption of alcohol and marijuana--is communicated by the subcultures' members as was demonstrated by the behavior's publicity.

Document Type


Rights Holder

Adam Monroe Stearn

Click button above to open, or right-click to save.