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37 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 3 (2000)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd37 and id is 1 raw text is: 



              DELINQUENT PROBLEM-SOLVING:
                AN INTERPRETIVE FRAMEWORK
                FOR CRIMINOLOGICAL THEORY
                                            AND RESEARCH

                                        TIMOTHY BREZINA



A sizable body ofevidence suggests that much delinquency can be interpreted as aform
of problem-solving behavior in response to the pressures of adolescence. Moreover
certain data indicate that delinquent responses are often experienced by the offender
as a reasonably effective means of short-term coping. Thus, in contrast to pathologi-
cal accounts, it may be legitimate to interpret much delinquency as a form of self-
regulation. This article organizes the extant delinquency literature within a problem-
solving framework, shows how a problem-solving perspective can shed additional
light on the nature of adolescence-limited delinquency, and offers a number of novel
research hypotheses to guide future research.


   The interpretation of delinquent behavior as a symptom of underlying
psychopathology  has gained  considerable currency in the United States
(Conrad and Schneider 1992; Peele 1995; Richters and Cicchetti 1993; Sykes
1992). Given the triumph of therapeutic ideology and consequent trends in
the medicalization of deviance (Rieff 1966; Sykes 1992; Szasz 1961), patho-
logical accounts play an increasingly influential role in the interpretation of
adolescent problem behaviors, including chemical dependency (Peele 1995);
conduct and authority problems in school (Conrad 1975); and such behaviors
as lying, stealing, aggression, truancy, and running away (Richters and Cic-
chetti 1993).
   This ascendancy can be attributed, in part, to two factors. First, the unusual
character of much  delinquency  suggests psychopathology. Much   delin-
quency  is negativistic, malicious, and seemingly nonutilitarian (Cohen
1955). Second, the view of delinquency as essentially nonutilitarian is rein-
forced by the results of progressively detailed research on the psychological

   This research was funded in part by a Tulane University Senate Committee on Research
(COR) Summer Fellowship. I wish to thank the editor and several anonymous reviewers for their
helpful comments and suggestions. Address correspondence to Dr. Timothy Brezina, Depart-
ment of Sociology, 220 Newcomb Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118; e-mail:
tbrezin@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, Vol. 37 No. 1, February 2000 3-30
Q 2000 Sage Publications, Inc.
                                                                      3


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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