A Model for Criminology in the Next Century
"Mean Streets" proposes a theoretical framework that draws on developments in sociological theorizing and research on social capital. Under this theory, the argument is that individuals are afforded and gain unequal amounts of social capital throughout the life course; and this, in turn, plays a key role in shaping life experiences. Among the youths studied in "Mean Streets," family dysfunction failed to provide them much social capital, leading to a life on the streets that further eroded their social capital. Criminal behavior used to survive chipped away at their ability to succeed through legitimate avenues. Hagan and McCarthy's social capital analysis is important, because it exposes the complex dynamics that lead youth to take to the streets and become involved in crime. Because the social capital arguments in "Mean Streets" are linked to sociological research on social capital, networks, embeddedness, and cultural capital, the book builds bridges to core issues in sociology, thereby traversing the widening gulf between much of criminology and its sociological parent. This creative synthesis also increases understanding of criminal networks and opportunities. Further, this study brings socioeconomic class back to center stage in the study of youth crime; and it combines qualitative and quantitative methods. Moreover, the analyses reveal some gender specialization in crime among street youth.