Balagan: Delinquency as a result of the lack of a center of norms and consciousness

U. Timor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


From interviews with prisoners and ex-prisoners in Israel, it emerges that their delinquency was an outcome of what is called in many languages, including Hebrew, balagan (a chaotic or messy life). The balagan is caused by a lack of moral and behavioral centers, and it is characterized by confusing and contradictory norms of criminal and noncriminal behavior. This conclusion is inconsistent with theories that explain criminality in terms of cultural perspective, but it fits the center theory and the theories of social control. The balagan was mainly expressed by contradictions between their attitudes and behavior, as well as between their positive images and criminal acts. None of the convicts and ex-convicts justified breaking the law, but they attempted to minimize their responsibility by means of justifications and excuses. This study is based on phenomenological interviews conducted with 25 prisoners and 50 former prisoners who underwent programs of rehabilitation in kibbutzim and in yeshivot in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-748
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


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