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Publishers Weekly, 2005-01-03 Popularly deemed a problem of the minority poor, adolescent crime is also an issue of the suburban middle class, argues sociologist Currie (Crime and Punishment in America) in his close look at disaffection and transgression among the teenage bourgeoisie. Drawing on numerous interviews with college students and a two-and-a-half-year study of adolescents in drug treatment programs, Currie argues that because "we are accustomed to deploying the image of a stable and successful middle class as measuring stick against which the less... successful parts of our society... can be judged," we demonize and/or fail to understand middle-class kids who go astray. One of Currie's subjects, who began using drugs at 13, reminisces about growing up in a "beautiful home, really a beautiful home"-but financial comfort didn't prevent her from stealing from her family to buy drugs. In addition to the teens' detailed (and harrowing) personal accounts, Currie offers suggestions as to why teens from supposedly ideal homes are lured into irresponsible and criminal behavior. It's not our culture of permissiveness but our "culture of contingent worth," in which kids feel like they're never good enough; similarly, an intolerance for transgression and a "totalizing moralism" labels kids as bad rather than acknowledging their mistakes. Surprising, insightful and potentially controversial, Currie's analysis adds further nuance to burgeoning critiques of adolescence in the U.S. Agent, Katinka Matson at Brockman Inc. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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