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Pygmalion in the reintegration process: Desistance from crime through the looking glass

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The study of desistance from crime has come of age in recent years, and there are now several, competing theories to account for the ability of long-term offenders to abstain from criminal behavior. Most prominently, recent explanations have borrowed elements from informal social control theory, differential association theory and cognitive psychology. In the following, we argue that labeling theory may be a neglected factor in understanding the desistance process. Drawing on interview data collected as part of a study of an offender reintegration program, we illustrate how the idea of the "looking-glass self-concept" and others is a useful metaphor in understanding the process of rehabilitation or recovery in treatment programs.
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Keywords: Certification; Desistance; Labeling; Looking-Glass Self; Personal Voucher; Redemption Ritual

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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