Social Learning and Structural Factors in Adolescent Substance Use
Akers' (1998) Social Structure and Social Learning (SSSL) model of crime and deviance posits that social learning is the principal social psychological process by which the social structural causes of crime and deviance have an impact on individual behavior. The central hypothesis of this model is that the effects of social structural factors on deviant behavior are substantially mediated by the variables specified in social learning theory. The SSSL model is tested here with data from the Boys Town study of adolescent substance use utilizing the LISREL program. The structural variables are gender, class, and age as indicators of differential location in the social structure; family structure, as a measure of differential social location; and community size, as an indicator of differential social organization. The social learning variables are differential peer association, differential reinforcement, definitions favorable and unfavorable to substance use, and imitation. The dependent variables are adolescent alcohol and marijuana behavior. The imitation variable does not fit into stable measurement models of the latent social learning construct and has weaker mediating effects. The other social learning variables do fit in stable models as indicators of the social learning construct in Structural Equation Models (SEM) and have substantial mediating effects on the relationships between the structural variables and substance use. The findings tend to support the theoretical expectations, but caveats and limitations of the study are outlined that have implications for future research to test the theory more fully.
Gang Lee, Ronald L. Akers, and Marian J. Borg. "Social Learning and Structural Factors in Adolescent Substance Use" Western Criminology Review (2004).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gang_lee/11
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