Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives

Harvard University Press, 30.06.2009 - 350 Seiten

This book analyzes newly collected data on crime and social development up to age 70 for 500 men who were remanded to reform school in the 1940s. Born in Boston in the late 1920s and early 1930s, these men were the subjects of the classic study Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck (1950). Updating their lives at the close of the twentieth century, and connecting their adult experiences to childhood, this book is arguably the longest longitudinal study of age, crime, and the life course to date.

John Laub and Robert Sampson's long-term data, combined with in-depth interviews, defy the conventional wisdom that links individual traits such as poor verbal skills, limited self-control, and difficult temperament to long-term trajectories of offending. The authors reject the idea of categorizing offenders to reveal etiologies of offending--rather, they connect variability in behavior to social context. They find that men who desisted from crime were rooted in structural routines and had strong social ties to family and community.

By uniting life-history narratives with rigorous data analysis, the authors shed new light on long-term trajectories of crime and current policies of crime control.

Table of Contents:


1. Diverging Pathways of Troubled Boys
2. Persistence or Desistance?
3. Explaining the Life Course of Crime
4. Finding the Men
5. Long-Term Trajectories of Crime
6. Why Some Offenders Stop
7. Why Some Offenders Persist
8. Zigzag Criminal Careers
9. Modeling Change in Crime
10. Rethinking Lives in and out of Crime


The accounts of individuals are quite riveting, and the book can be recommended strongly purely for the stories provided about diverse lives. However, the book is much, much more than that in terms of the serious challenge that the authors' findings and ideas present to some of the leading contemporary theories of both crime and development. A highly original and scholarly contribution of the highest quality.
--Sir Michael Rutter, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London

ttitleShared Beginnings, Divergent Lives is an extraordinary work which shows the deep insights gained by studying the whole life course, beginning in childhood and ending in later life. With access to a rare data archive, the authors provide compelling evidence on the remarkably varied adult lives of teenage delinquents who grew up in low-income areas of Boston (born 1925-1935). The story behind these varied life paths and their consequences inspires fresh thinking about crime over the life course through models of life trajectories and vivid narratives that reveal the complexity of lives.
--Glen H. Elder, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This book redraws the landscape of developmental criminology that Laub and Sampson already have done so much to define, setting new standards and benchmarks along the way. The authors both provide new evidence for earlier conclusions and challenge prevailing assumptions and assertions, thereby reshaping the criminological research agenda for years to come.
--John Hagan, Northwestern University

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Diverging Pathways of Troubled Boys
Persistence or Desistance?
Explaining the Life Course of Crime
Finding the Men
LongTerm Trajectories of Crime
Why Some Offenders Stop
Why Some Offenders Persist
Zigzag Criminal Careers
Modeling Change in Crime
Rethinking Lives in and out of Crime

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Seite 6 - In our analyses, we found that job stability and marital attachment in adulthood were significantly related to changes in adult crime — the stronger the adult ties to work and family, the less crime and deviance among both delinquents and controls.
Seite 27 - This explanation suggests that maturational reform is just that, change in behavior that comes with maturation; it suggests that spontaneous desistance is just that, change in behavior that cannot be explained and change that occurs regardless of what else happens.
Seite 27 - It was not achievement of any particular age, but rather the achievement of adequate maturation regardless of the chronological age at which it occurred that was the significant influence in the behaviour changes of the criminals investigated.
Seite 51 - ... (Laub and Sampson, 2001: 50). Laub and Sampson also caution that "criminal sanctionsincarceration as a juvenile and as a young adult had a negative effect on later job stability, which in turn was negatively related to continued involvement in crime over the life course" (Laub and Sampson, 2001: 57).
Seite 77 - Thus, that 500 of the boys were persistent delinquents and 500 avoided delinquency in childhood and adolescence cannot be attributed to residence in urban slum areas, age differences, ethnicity, or IQ. The original sample was followed up at two different points in time...
Seite 49 - Depression. duty, in-service schooling, and GI Bill training at ages 17 to 25 generally enhanced subsequent occupational status, job stability, and economic well-being, independent of childhood differences and socioeconomic background. The benefits of the GI Bill were also larger for veterans stigmatized with an officially delinquent past, especially those who served in the military earlier rather than later in life (see Sampson & Laub, 1996, for more details).
Seite 5 - Delinquency study and subsequent follow-ups conducted by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck of the Harvard Law School. This study is considered to be one of the most influential in the history of criminological research. The Gluecks...
Seite 32 - Survey for respondents aged 1 1-21, he found that peer associations (eg, exposure to delinquent peers, time spent with peers, and loyalty to peers) changed dramatically with age.
Seite 145 - It appears that offenders desist as a result of a combination of individual actions (choice) in conjunction with situational contexts and structural influences linked to important institutions that help sustain desistance.

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