Primary socialization theory: It all begins with the family

Les B. Whitbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This commentary is a discussion of primary socialization theory emphasizing the centrality of family processes on adolescents' affiliation with deviant peers and subsequent deviant behaviors. The focus of the discussion is the persistent influence of family processes well into adolescence. An empirical model illustrating these processes is presented. The model is based on a sample of 257 runaway adolescents and indicates that the effects of an abusive family on adolescent behaviors are largely transmitted via affiliation with deviant peers. The author concludes that primary socialization theory would be strengthened by greater emphasis on the persistent influence of family on adolescent behaviors. Implications for family-based prevention programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1032
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Deviance
  • Drug use
  • Family
  • Peers
  • Prevention
  • Primary socialization
  • Runaways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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