The Saints and the Roughnecks Case Study essay

TheSaints and the Roughnecks Case Study


TheSaints and the Roughnecks Case Study

The‘Saintsand the Roughnecks’is a case study that was developed and utilized varying theoriestowards the explanation of delinquent behavior that was within twogroups of high school boys. The case study was developed by WilliamChambliss, and addressed theories such as ‘LabelingTheory’as the author attempted to explain why two different groups of boyswith almost the same delinquent behaviors tend to draw differentviews from the school teacher, and the larger society. The societytends to focus on an individual label other than the person himself(Chambliss, n.d). This paper is a report based on the case study TheSaints and the Roughnecks, addressing theories presented and theirvalidity, and also how to combat the biases displayed in the case,not forgetting the policy recommendations for a fictional town.


Thecase scenario presented entails two groups of high school boys. Onegroup was regarded as the ‘Saints’and the other one as the Roughnecks.William observed the two set of boys, recording their life in highschool, and after and most importantly, their relationship with theoutside world with reference to their delinquent behavior. The‘Saints’ which is the first group were viewed by the society asboys who could be respected, and who were expected to be successfulpeople in their after school life. This is contrary to the case with‘Roughnecks’ who were referred as delinquents and every person inthe society expected them to fail in their high school exams.However, both set of boys engaged in criminal offenses such aspartying, sneaking out school, stealing etc. At some point, theSaints could be involved in worse cases than the Roughnecks, but theirony was that, only the Roughnecks were arrested or punished fortheir criminal actions. The ‘Saints’ group of boys were fromfamilies that were wealthy. Not to mention they scored good grades intheir exams (Chambliss, n.d). They are hence able to do away withevery action, as the society regarded them as upstanding men who willbe worth in their lives. More so, the status of being able to havemoney made them hard to be caught as they would travel out of townwhere they would engage in criminal activities without notice of thepolice, school heads, or the community. Comparing this to theiropposing group, the Roughnecks were from mostly poor families, henceseen as troublemakers. They found it quite a challenge to get awaywith any offense that faced them whether at school or outside theschool environment. Despite the idea that the Saints were probablymore delinquent than their counterparts the Roughnecks, the saintswere viewed as good students due to their social class, economicalbackground.

Insimple characterization, the Saints were from well-being family interms of social class and economically. In school, they showedacademic prowess, participated in school athletic team. Hence theirscore card before the teachers and community was good. When it cameto the police, they thought the boys were good kids the boys alwaysenjoyed as much mercy as they wanted. In the case of Roughnecks, theywere from lower-class families, always in trouble with the police,poor, not well-mannered as well as not well-dressed. They used to beinvolved in fights, not to mention their C-class performance inschool work. The Saints would on the other hand sneak from schoolwithout being caught, but the case was different for the Roughnecks.After school, a good number of Saints went to college, later joininguniversity. Only two from the Roughneck group managed to joincollege. Other members ended in jail and never finished high school,others in minor jobs (Chambliss, n.d). In summary, the Saints despitetheir bad actions while at school, their life spanned out wellcompared to the Roughnecks whose life after school was marked withjail terms and unsuccessful after school life.

TheoriesPresented in the Case Study

Oneof the major theories presented in the case is the conflict theory.According to the theory, it states that people or the society tendsto focus more on the label that a person is accorded other than judgethem according to their actions. More so, the theory also expressesthe effect to an individual that, if a person thinks that he is goodor bad, he himself expects to be treated so. With regard to the case,the society surrounding the two groups of students has alreadydefinite labels for the two groups. According to them, the Saints areregarded as good while the Roughnecks as bad (Cullen &amp Wilcox,2010). This, in turn, prevents them from accepting the fact that, theSaints were equally bad despite their public good behavior. On theother hand, just because of their label, the roughneck’s path totheory future lo0ks to be already made and in turn it is for them toface or take it.

Secondly,there is the display of Differential Association Theory, which statesthat people learn their behaviors from the society they are in aswell as defining one’s boundaries. With regard to the caseprovided, the group known as Saints already knew the society tookthem as good people, and in turn, they managed to establish what theyought to do to keep themselves from being labeled bad. With referenceto Roughnecks side, they already knew they were regarded as wrongdoers this, in turn, led to learning how to deviate. The culturesaccorded to the groups defined their deviance, hence they believebetween the two groups being regarded as good and bad. The Saintsunderstood themselves to be good, hence behaved well, and vice versa.

Thirdly,there is the display of Marxist theory, which focuses on the economicbackground of the two groups of boys and the visibility aspect. Withreference to the case, the Saints had economic privileges and hencedominate the good things such as good grades, ability to afford carsand out of town parties among others. The theory according to Marxistindicates that people that have economic powered tend to dominate themost spheres defining gone in a society. For example religion,politics, education, among others. More so, the society at largedoesn’t assume the students from wealthy background could have timefor the crime. The Roughnecks on the other couldn’t have access tosome privileges enjoyed by the Saints, and in turn were always incollision with the society (Cullen &amp Wilcox, 2010). Three aspectscontrolled the societies’ regard of the groups include visibility‘biasness’, demeanor.

Approachesto Combat the Biasness in the Case

Oneof the major contributing factors to the labeling of the two groupsis the visibility among the two groups is their visibility. TheSaints were less visible to the society in terms of their heinousacts which were not good either compared to their counterparts.Saints were less prone to fights, while the Roughnecks were, theSaints could go coffee to school hours. Roughnecks couldn’t, the‘bad’ group didn’t have access to a car and in turn had to hangaround their local town more visible to everyone, unlike the Saintswho were out of town (Zastrow, 2016). In order to avert this wronglabeling from the society, one approach would be to expose the Saintsto the society. This would in turn enable them to view them asequally bad, despite their part of good actions. This would help theRoughnecks adapt the aspect of doing well despite their name, whichwould be recognized (Cullen &amp Wilcox, 2010). RecognizingRoughnecks’ positives equal to that of the Saints would elevatetheir positive image to the society.

Oneof the major contributing factors behind biasness is the issue ofdifferences in social class culture. This is whereby the low classdelinquents were treated more severely than their counterparts fromthe middle and upper class. In order to address the differenceaccorded to the groups, one action would be to equally punish thegroups. This would bring out the aspect of equality regardless of thesocial class. Not only would this promote the act of good among theRoughnecks, as they would be recognized, it would reduce the economicmerits enjoyed by the Saints, hence treating everyone the same.Another approach would revision of the cranial system in the region(Chambliss, n.d). This would not only pass equal judgment of thedeviants, but also recognizes the bad acts of the Saints (Zastrow,2016). In other words, the policies adopted, would focus on reducingthe gap between the two groups as well as the difference in thesociety.

Inconclusion, the social and economic differentiation in a society iskey in creating labels among the people. With reference to the casestudy discussed, ‘the Saints and the Roughnecks’ it’s evidentthe society labels has been influential with regard to how thesociety responds/treat the members of it. The way Saints andRoughnecks are labeled is a key contributor to how the two groupsbehave and also how their future life spans out. However, withadvocate for equality when it comes to criminal cases, the aspect oflabeling would be minimized.


Chambliss:&quotTheSaints and the Roughnecks&quot(n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2016, from

Cullen,F. T., &amp Wilcox, P. (2010).&nbspEncyclopediaof criminological theory.Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.

Zastrow,C. (2016).&nbspIntroductionto social work and social welfare: Empowering people.