A new perspective for delinquency: Culture conflict measured by seriousness perceptions

Tomer Einat, Sergio Herzog

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Numerous theories have attempted to analyze and understand the factors and etiology of juvenile delinquency. The present study is the first to suggest the use of Sellin's "culture conflict" theory as a possible cultural explanation for the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency. According to Sellin, crime in many instances is a product of culture conflict between the values and norms of a certain subculture in a given society and those of the general culture. Following Sellin's rationale, this study argues that youths constitute a social subculture with certain values, norms, and stances toward the criminal law that is not necessarily concordant with the moral values and formal norms of the general culture of adults, who determine the content of the criminal law. These assertions are analyzed via a crime seriousness study, in which adult and teenage respondents from a national (Israeli) sample were asked to evaluate the seriousness of various criminal offenses committed by adolescents. Generally, significant differences were found between the seriousness and punishment values given by the adult and juvenile respondents to violent offenses (high) and self-use of illegal drugs (low), with adult respondents providing significantly higher seriousness values and punishment options for them. Moreover, in a regression analysis, the variable of respondents' age was found as decisive in understanding both dependent variables. The implications of these findings are discussed in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1072-1095
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • conflict
  • culture
  • delinquency
  • juvenile
  • seriousness perception


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