Differential Association and Social Bonding Theory

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Differential Association and Social Bonding Theory

The purpose of the following study is determine what, if any, the components of social bonding theory and differential association play on the lives of college students. This study is composed of three hypotheses: A) If the amount of commitment to the college goes up will deviance go down?; B) If involvement with the college is increased then does deviance go down?; and C) If a student associates, or attaches, themselves to deviant peers will deviance be the likely result? These answers will be sought after in this study. However, it is important to focus on what results are found in this study as a way to oppose crime and deviance among college students. For example, if it is found out that students in college are more likely to be deviant because of lack of involvement, then it would be a wise move to be more inclusive of all students in student organizations, thus combating deviance among the student population.

Literature Review

"Our initial step is to examine a fundamental theory on the emergence of crime, differential association. The theory of differential association is one of the oldest theories on crime. The fundamental assumption of this theory is the principle of differential association which reads: ‘A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to the violation of the law over definitions unfavorable to the violation of the law'. Sutherland comments upon this principle in the following manner: ‘It refers to both criminal and anti-criminal associations and has to do with counteracting forces. When persons become criminals, they do so because of contacts with criminal patterns and also because of isolation away from anti-criminal patterns' (Opp, 1989)." "The principle of differential association itself does not contain any explicit allusion to [the economic] model. However, in discussing other assumptions of his theory, Sutherland draws attention to the fact that motives and techniques of committing the crime are of relevance for the actual committing of the criminal offense. In the terminology of the economic theory of crime, these factors are preferences and constraints. Sutherland also seems to presuppose a rudimentary principle of utility maximization, when he states his theory proceeds from ‘a situation to be defined by the person in terms of the inclinations and abilities which the person has acquired up to that date' and is based on the assumption ‘that a criminal acts occurs when a situation appropriate for it, as defined by a person, is present'. Sutherland, therefore implicitly employs a variant of the economic model of man, although he does not use it rigorously for deducing hypotheses (Opp, 1989)". "Early versions of Sutherland's differential association theory addressed explicitly its broader structural implications. Under the term ‘differential social organization', this macroanalogue to differential association proposes that criminal associations and normative conflict vary across community types; it is this variation that explains the distribution of crime rates. Individuals embedded within structural units are differently exposed to definitions favorable of or opposed to delinquent and criminal; these definitions directly affect one's own delinquent behavior. Akers has recently elaborated his social learning theory to expressly link macrolevel processes with individual level learning structures. A key issue for this elaboration is describing the source of prodeviant definitions and effectiveness of differential reinforcement across social groups. This macrostructure then determines whether an individual will be exposed to various associations and definitions conducive to delinquency (Hoffman, 2003)." "We develop a theoretical model that attempts to state more precisely and to extend the concepts and ideas in Sutherland's theory of differential association as the prime factor...
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