Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Elizabeth Chute

Second Advisor

Dennis Weidman

Third Advisor

Murphy Fox

Abstract

The father figure is disappearing from homes throughout the occidental world. Nonetheless, the relationship fathers have with their sons is irreplaceable. In this study, qualitative methods were used to better understand the father’s influence on his son. The study found that there was little difference between those adolescents walking the streets and those who are incarcerated. Males, ages eighteen to twenty-three, were interviewed regarding their family history, political views, and delinquency, and how their fathers contributed to their childhood. Additionally, learning of attitudes and behaviors is more related to the son’s perception of the father, rather than actions or words the father speaks directly to the individual. Social theory is used to analyze both types of data. Families with high cohesion have sons that are less likely to get into trouble, and those who discuss politics in front of their children—not at their children—are more likely to have influence on the offspring’s political beliefs. Other principles were also supported, especially Lowney’s Law, Merton’s Anomie, and Sutherland and Cressey’s Differential Association Theory. The study conclusively found that boys with loving, active fathers or guardians in the home are more likely to be involved politically, and less likely to engage in socially unacceptable behavior.

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