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Khoo, A. (1999). Self-categorisations and shifts in the delinquent social identity. In M. Waas (Ed.), Enhancing learning: Challenge of integrating thinking and information technology into the curriculum: Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the Educational Research Association ( pp. 420-424). Singapore: Educational Research Association.
This paper presents research findings based on self-categorisation theory's concept of the
variable self (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, and Wetherell, 1987). The idea of a situation-specific
or context-dependent self is not entirely new. Skyes and Matza ( 1957) argued that
delinquents shift in and out of delinquency through techniques of neutralisation. On the other
hand. Cohen's ( 1955) subcultural theory argued that delinquents develop their own subcultural
norms. which are the reverse of conventional society's. Labelling theory also implied that the
delinquent identity is a fixed or stable one. Self-categorisation theory's concepts of personal and social identities that exist along a continuum, and the concept of the self as one which changes according to the nature of self-categorisations and demands of the situation offer a reconciliation of these two perspectives.
The study discussed in this paper, showed differences in incarcerated delinquents'
attitudes towards authority and endorsement of neutralisation techniques when different identities are salient, that is, when they are in their gang or in their family identities. Specifically, when their family identity is salient and when confrontation by authority is private rather than public, these delinquents tend to show lower anti-authority attitudes and lesser endorsement of neutralisation techniques. However, no differences are found in the private or public confrontation by authority when their gang identity is salient.
This paper was published in the 1999 Proceedings of the ERA Annual Conference held at Plaza Parkroyal Hotel, Singapore from 23-25 November 1998
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