Distinguished Teaching Professor Of Sociology, University At Albany-SUNY
- School-level variables had a significant impact on predicted delinquency.
- There is a significant effect of internal attitudinal traits, characterized by excessive ego and focus on individual achievement, on readiness for violence in individuals.
- Students who judge their achievement in school and relationships with teachers low, are more likely to report pro-violence attitudes.
- Individual perception of the school culture/climate had no impact on pro-violence tendencies.
In the article, “Marketized Mentality, Competitive/Egotistic School Culture, and Delinquent Attitudes and Behavior: An Application of Institutional Anomie Theory,” Messner and his co-authors examine internal (individual) and external (school-level) causes of juvenile delinquency using the institutional anomie theory (IAT), which seeks to identify causes for criminal activity on a macro-sociological level. The IAT theorizes that crime is connected to societies where the economy is the dominant social institution; such as societies with capitalist economies. The researchers collected their survey data from a previous study on adolescent and young adults in Germany that included more than 4,000 students from about 70 schools aged 11-20 years old. The researchers studied the attitudinal and behavioral survey indicators to fill in other variables for the IAT. The results showed that external school-level variables had a significant impact on predicted delinquency; 7.9% of the variance in readiness for violence in students could be traced to school culture/climate. They also found a significant effect of the MM trait, characterized by excessive ego and focus on individual achievement, on a readiness for violence in individuals. Experiencing family violence in childhood, weak familial bonds, and being female are other factors with significant effects on pro-violence attitudes. Students who judge their achievement in school and relationships with teachers low are more likely to report pro-violence attitudes. Individual perception of the school culture/climate had no impact on pro-violence tendencies. The researchers note that both internal (MM trait) and external (school climate) contribute to pro-violence attitudes and delinquency. They note that attitudes and behaviors are not always congruent but attitudes do play a part in an individual’s sense of control that can lead to action. In conclusion, the authors note there is a need to further examine predictors of youthful offending.