Routine activities in social context: A closer look at the role of opportunity in deviant behavior

Jón Gunnar Bernburg, Thorolfur Thorlindsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Present versions of the routine activity approach to deviant behavior do not account for the social context of situational motivation and opportunity. Using concepts from social bonding and differential association theories, we argue that the patterning of routine activities is guided in part by the same factors that cause deviant behavior, namely differential social relations. We extend the routine activity approach by arguing that the effect of routine activities on deviant behavior is contingent on people’s differential social relations. Based on cross-sectional survey data from a nationally representative sample of Icelandic adolescents, our findings support these claims. First, there is a considerable decrease in the effect of our routine activities indicator (unstructured peer interaction in the absence of authority figures) on both violent behavior and property offending when we control for differential social relations, namely bonding with conventional agents and associations with deviant peers. Second, the findings indicate that differential social relations play a critical role in moderating the effects of routine activities on deviance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-567
Number of pages28
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2001


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