Education and the Risk Society

Volume 5 of the series Contexts of Education pp 203-223

Birds of a feather? Peers, delinquency, and risk

Language and Risk in the Netherlands
  • Deborah Freedman LustigAffiliated withInstitute for the Study of Societal Issues University of California, Research Associate Center for Research on Social Change
  • , Kenzo SungAffiliated withGraduate School of Education University of California

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“I know a lot of people think birds of a feather flock together. But that’s not necessarily true.” Benjamin, a 24 year old African American male, described how some of his friends were drug dealers and gang members who were in and out of jail while others were academically successful and ended up in college. Much social science research on youth, peers, and violence has suggested that birds of a feather flock together, as reflected in the common finding that association with delinquent peers is a risk factor for youth violence. In this chapter, we will unpack this statement and show how the lived experiences of youth growing up in a diverse low-income community of Oakland, California complicate this claim.