Current research within the life course perspective suggests that delays in the transition to adulthood have resulted in emerging adulthood, a developmental stage lasting from around 18–25. These delays have shifted the timing of turning points and altered the interaction between social bonds and behavior. Current research provides a limited understanding of desistance within emerging adulthood, including how cognitive factors (e.g., identity formation) coincide with structural factors (e.g., turning points, relationships, employment) to facilitate desistance. Specifically, to understand how prosocial bonds are built and function, criminological theory must appropriately consider which social bonds are important within emerging adulthood. This is pivotal for building effective emerging adulthood policy, as specialized courts, specific units within jail/prisons, and community-based interventions are recommended to address gaps in current criminal justice structures.
This study employs a mixed methods approach where 15 justice-involved emerging adults receiving services from UTEC, a community-based intervention program in Lowell, Massachusetts completed narrative life story interviews. The qualitative results examine common turning points for the transition into prosocial adulthood for these emerging adults. Additionally, a reconceptualization of Social Bond Theory is constructed for emerging adults. Finally, a quantitative test of the reconceptualized Social Bond Theory for emerging adults is performed to examine the effects of social bonds on arrest.
Qualitative results suggest that turning points function for these justice-involved emerging adults as theorized within the general emerging adult literature, but somewhat distinctly from traditional criminological literature. This suggests that an interdisciplinary approach to the literature on emerging adulthood may be necessary when studying, and developing policy for, justice-involved emerging adults. Additionally, Social Bond Theory is reconceptualized into two main components: 1) Attachment and 2) Commitment through involvement. Generally, attachment functions as originally theorized, apart from romantic relationships. This sample did not identify romantic relationships as central to their transition to adulthood and desistance process. Here, the two traditional components of commitment and involvement were intertwined, with participants viewing their involvements as directly influenced by their commitments.
Quantitative results suggest that gender, age, mental health, and employment status play a role in influencing arrest. Specifically, those with a mental health diagnosis were more likely to be arrested for probation violations. Additionally, these results also suggest that employment outside of UTEC may facilitate an increased likelihood of arrest for new charges. In line with the general literature on emerging adulthood, this population views employment as temporary and exploratory. Thus, employment may not deter against criminogenic risk factors for emerging adults as theorized for adolescent populations. Future research should expand the discussion on the types of employment emerging adults seek and the characteristics of this employment (i.e., level of skill, duration, pay).
|Advisor:||Socia, Kelly M.|
|Commitee:||Pattavina, April F., Kras, Kimberly R., Wakefield, Sara|
|School:||University of Massachusetts Lowell|
|Department:||Criminology & Justice Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Desistance, Emerging adulthood, Social Bond Theory|
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