Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

Interactional Theory of Delinquency

  • Terence P. Thornberry
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_499



Interactional theory offers a broad explanation for the causes and consequences of involvement in antisocial behavior. When first proposed by Thornberry in 1987, it primarily focused on delinquency and drug use during adolescence and early adulthood. The theory proposed that delinquent behavior was caused by weak social bonds and involvement in delinquent networks but that delinquency also had feedback effects to further weaken prosocial bonds and further embed the individual in deviant networks and belief systems. Prolonged and serious involvement in antisocial behavior gradually evolved over the life course as a function of these reciprocal processes. The theory was subsequently expanded in two major directions. First, Thornberry and Krohn (2001, 2005) added a fuller developmental, life course perspective to account for involvement in antisocial behavior across the life span. The theory offered explanations both for the onset of offending,...

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Recommended Reading and References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA