Sutherland: Differential Association Theory

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Who developed the differential association theory?

Sutherland

What kind of theory is the differential association theory?

A LEARNING theory

Is differential association theory a macro or micro theory?

Micro - looks at individuals

How is the differential association theory a mechanistic/situational theory?

It says that crime is spontaneous and immediately caused by certain factors and stimuli in a person's environment (caused by the presence of some variable). For example, a person experiences strain or anomie which causes them to commit crime.

How is the differential association theory a historic/genetic theory?

It looks at the process by which someone enters into criminal behavior. Sutherland traces criminal behavior back to its very source. Young people become delinquent over time because of things that happen in their biography.

How is the differential association theory a propositional theory?

It is presented as a series of statements that describe what is going on (connections between certain factors). These statements are called propositions. It is also a deductive theory because it is based on logic.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #1

Criminal behavior is LEARNED - people don't come up with crimes on their own, they pick up and learn crimes that other people are already doing.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #2

Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. This abstract process of communication emphasizes the fact that criminal learning often occurs in very subtle ways and isn't explicitly taught.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #3

The principle part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups.

Co-presence

People have to be WITH one another in face-to-face interaction. This is a very powerful force.

Conformity

A group creates its own little society, a moral universe. People within that moral universe conform to its standards and accept its values.

Can crime be learned from media such as television and movies?

According to Sutherland and Cressey, NO.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #4

When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes (a) techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes complicated, and sometimes very simple, and (b) the specific direction of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes.

How are linguistic constructs used?

A person uses a linguistic construct to define some situation as a criminal opportunity. They are also used to rationalize criminal behavior - "he deserves it."

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #5

The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable.

What was Thorstein Sellin's theory?

Culture conflict - different groups establish their own norms

Where do definitions unfavorable to the law come from?

McKay suggests social disorganization but Sutherland thinks that the high-crime areas that were assumed to be disorganized were really highly organized within groups (groups had their own norms). Sutherland called these DIFFERENTLY ORGANIZED GROUPS.

How does horizontal mobility affect crime?

Mobility increases the chance of encountering/producing a definition that is unfavorable to the law. When people move places they can act as they want in anonymity.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #6

A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of law.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #7

Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.

What kind of theory is differential association theory?

It is a GENERAL theory - attempts to explain the most with the least. According to Sutherland, one thing can explain everything: LEARNING.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #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.

Sutherland's DiffAssoc Proposition #9

While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values since non-criminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values.

What is the difference between ending up in crime and conforming?

The CONTENT of the learning that an individual experiences.

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