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The idea of peer influence as a cause of delinquency has been around since the 1930s, when Edwin Sutherland offered his theory of differential association. Although that theory and similar ones remain popular and have strong empirical support, more recent theories reject the idea completely. This book surveys the research literature on peer influence, reveals that most offenders are imbedded in a network of friends and accomplices, and describes numerous possible mechanisms of peer influence.
1. Introduction; 2. Peers in the life course; 3. The group character of crime and delinquency; 4. Peers and delinquent conduct; 5. Applying peer explanations of delinquency; 6. Conclusion.