Boyhood and Delinquency in 1920s Chicago

A Sociological Study of Juvenile Jack-Rollers and Gender


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About the Book

Developed by progressive social scientists in the early 20th century, the juvenile justice system in the U.S. consisted of courts and corrections aimed at reforming disorderly youth. Poor immigrant boys, roaming the streets unsupervised, were its usual subjects. Psychologists and sociologists equated maleness with innate insensitivity, lack of self-control and violent tendencies. In the belief that proper discipline would save the troubled boys from “feminization” and help control their destructive impulses, a rigid masculine authority—challenged by women activists—began to be imposed by a reactionary patriarchal system. This study of delinquency in 1920s Chicago examines the lives of boys, many of whom spent their early years incarcerated, who survived by embracing criminal personas. Predatory masculinity emerges as a source of personal struggle, and as the basis for an array of contemporary social problems, including mass violence and suicide.

About the Author(s)

Roger A. Salerno is a professor of sociology at Pace University in New York and a practicing psychoanalyst.

Bibliographic Details

Roger A. Salerno

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6341-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2717-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi
Preface  1
Introduction: Boyhood and the Criminological Imagination  3
One. ­Jack-Roller Stories  19
Two. Decoding The ­Jack-Roller  41
Three. Shaw’s Other Boys  61
Four. Exclusions of Convenience  82
Five. Inclusions of Convenience  103
Six. Introduction to the Institute for Juvenile Research Oral Histories  111
The Lone Wolf  113
The Boy Scout  132
The Beaver  163
Conclusion: Delinquency and the End of Boyhood  182
Bibliography  189
Index  195

Book Reviews & Awards

“definitively researched scholarship…extraordinary and highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review.