Date of this Version
Criminal Justice Review (March 2007) 32(1): 78-80. DOI: 10.1177/0734016806297500.
Juvenile Delinquency: Causes and Control is a comprehensive text addressing the causes of, and responses to, a major social problem in modern American society. Although Robert Agnew is best known for his development of General Strain Theory, an individual level strain theory rooted in classical anomie theory and the more recent literature on stress, his broader record of publication denotes him as one of the premier theoretical analysts in the fields of criminology and juvenile delinquency. This text reflects his command of the discipline.
The book is oriented according to a number of themes. First, it is designed to be shorter and more focused than most texts on juvenile delinquency. At more than 500 pages, the text is not brief in its entirety, but many of the subject areas are covered in a concise fashion. A second focus is the adoption of a more synthetic approach to the field of research on juvenile delinquency. Specifically, Professor Agnew synthesizes the majority of theory and research in the discipline into four generic theories: strain, social learning, control, and labeling. Explanations of delinquency, as well as societal responses and efforts to control delinquency, are then interpreted through these four general perspectives. Finally, an effort is made to produce a text that is student friendly through the use of specific questions in the descriptions of theory and research as well as using the synthetic approach to consistently interpret the majority of this theory and research in relation to only four perspectives.