This chapter tries to draw out from the enormous amount of material on juvenile delinquency generated by sociologists some of the main developments in sociological interpretations of the phenomenon. There are two particular dangers in this approach. The first danger is that of imposing a spurious continuity on these interpretations by implying that each was a logical modification of a preceding interpretation; in fact, some of these investigations and interpretations grew out of very different ongoing sociological traditions and might be said to contradict rather than complement or logically modify each other. Thus, while the approach adopted here is broadly a historical one which traces the major changes in conceptualizations of the phenomenon, in fact it should be remembered that there is not a consensus among sociologists about the 'right' perspective to adopt; as a result many sociologists may partially subscribe to each of the following general orientations. The second danger is that in selecting and abstracting out only one or two ideas from each main 'school' or author, the richness of the particular contribution is lost and, at the same time, what was said may be distorted by pulling it out of context; the only solution to this is for the reader to examine the original contributions for himself. II6
The selection from and criticism of particular works here are inevitably highly particular and done broadly from the standpoint of the deviance perspective presented earlier; thus all that can be provided is a general orientation to the sociological tradition of delinquency explanation.