Testing the generalizability of informal social control theory: change and stability of illicit substance use across the life course among various racial and gender subgroups
Bounds, Christopher W.
Dunaway, R. Gregory
Haynes, Stacy Hoskins
Sampson and Laub’s age-graded informal social control theory has generated considerable attention vying to become a leading explanation of criminal involvement across the life-course. It has spawned a number of criticisms and an equivocal body of research. Many of these criticisms have centered on their reliance upon the Glueck data - a dataset consisting of all White males born in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Using logistic regression, the current project explores whether adult social bonds such as marital bonds, employment bonds, and military service, factors highlighted by Sampson and Laub, are related to substance use among a nationally representative sample born in the United States between 1957 and 1964. This project then specifically extends this body of literature by examining race and gender variation in the relationship between social bonds and substance use. The findings provide general empirical support for many of Sampson and Laub’s original findings. However, once racial and gender subgroups were analyzed independently the results indicate that many key adult social bonds were not related to the desistance of illicit substance use. The findings are discussed in terms of the further specification of theoretical models recognizing distinct pathways to change and continuity of substance use among various racial categories, genders, and historical settings.