Delinquent Samaritans: Network Structure, Social Conflict, and the Willingness to Intervene

A. R. Gillis, John Hagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article challenges a common view of delinquents as asocial and amoral regarding their support of other people. Support is measured through indications of the willingness to extend assistance to persons at various social and physical distances who are victims of crime. Delinquents seem indeed to be less supportive than other juveniles of people in general. However, when the nature of intervention (direct as opposed to indirect) is taken into account in situations of conflict, delinquents show more loyalty than other juveniles to family and friends. In this respect, delinquents' loyalty is undivided, suggesting that the social cohesion of delinquents may be more particularistic and intense than the more extensive and universalistic support given by other juveniles. Contact with other delinquents is directly related to in-group loyalty and may account for part, but not all, of the relationship between it and delinquency. Further analysis reveals an important departure from an additive model: Delinquents who are involved in dyadic relationships with other delinquents are “too” loyal. The findings are interpreted in terms of Simmel's view of conflict, group structure, and group cohesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-51
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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