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date: 23 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Disadvantaged neighborhoods can affect criminal behavior, increasing the risk of late-onset juvenile delinquency even for young people not otherwise at risk of delinquent behavior due to their individual characteristics and family circumstances. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood has been linked to other negative adolescent outcomes, such as dropping out of high school and early childbearing, but the mechanisms by which neighborhood disadvantage affects individual outcomes are less well understood. A study drawing on in-depth, unstructured interviews with 60 adolescent boys in three Boston neighborhoods seeks to understand how neighborhood-based violence affects the social and cultural context of a boy’s neighborhood and how this context in turn affects his decision making and outcomes. Two interrelated features of poor urban neighborhoods are critical mechanisms underlying neighborhood effects on adolescent boys: neighborhood violence and cultural heterogeneity. These mechanisms generate institutional distrust, bonds of mutual protection, cross-cohort socialization, negative role models, and the leveling of expectations.

Keywords: youth violence, neighborhood, culture, cultural heterogeneity, networks, peers

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