Source: (1998) Paper presented at the First North American Conference on Conferencing. Minneapolis, 6-8 August 1998.

The author discusses juvenile identity and delinquency. Self-categorisation theory’s concept of the variable self allows one to postulate that delinquents experience shifts in their social identity during family conferencing, and this is an important factor contributing to the success of the conference process. Reconciliation becomes possible because in their family identities, delinquents are more likely to experience remorse and shame, but it is the kind of shame which is reintegrative rather than stigmatizing. Some have argued that delinquents shift in and out of delinquency through techniques of neutralisation. Others have argued that delinquents develop their own subcultural norms, which are the reverse of conventional society’s. Another theory also implied that the delinquent identity is a fixed or stable one. Self-categorisation theory’s concepts of personal and social identities that exist along a continuum, and the concept of the self as one which changes according to the nature of self-categorisations and demands of the situation, offer a reconciliation of these various perspectives.