Social Process Theories: Sutherland's Differential Association Theory

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Assignment # 3 Crime Theories

Jamie Hamill
Juvenile Delinquency and Justice
Strayer University

Social Process Theories – Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory
At the time of Edwin H. Sutherland’s work, social structure theories – social disorganization and strain – were prevalent. However, Sutherland asserted that delinquent behavior is a function of learning and not a function of either the ability to obtain economic success or of living in a socially disorganized area of a city. He made formal propositions that demonstrate that social interaction and learning lead to delinquency. 1. Crime behavior is learned.

2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. 3. The principle part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs with intimate personal groups. 4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, specific directions of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes. 5. The specific directions of motives and drives are learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable. 6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of the law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law. 7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. 8. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning. 9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since noncriminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values. . (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 130-131) Subculture Theory

A subculture is a set of values, norms, and beliefs that differs from those within the dominant culture. According to subculture theory, delinquent youth hold...
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