Identity work, techniques of neutralization, and deviance: Exploring the relationship among older adult gamblers

Abstract

This study investigates the value of techniques of neutralization in understanding how people involved in marginal to widely deviant behaviors perform identity work. Based on 33 in-depth interviews with older adult gamblers, we show how techniques of neutralization are used to align personal and social identities. We describe the techniques of neutralizations our participants use along a continuum of gambling involvement, showing how techniques differ in variety and content and are contingent on larger narratives about appropriate behaviors, identities, and selves operating in contemporary society. Our research helps to refine sociologists' understandings of relationships between levels of involvement in deviant behaviors and identity work.

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