Learning to Be Deviant: A Qualitative Study of Differential Association

UNCP Author/Contributor (non-UNCP co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sandra K. Holland (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP )
Web Site: http://www.uncp.edu/academics/library
Frank Schmalleger

Abstract: Edwin H. Sutherland's theory of Differential Association may be categorized as a learning theory. The basic premise is that criminal behavior is acquired through the learning process, just as is lawful behavior. The socialization process is essentially the same, regardless of whether the messages being transmitted are conformist or deviant. Through interaction with others, people learn attitudes both favorable and unfavorable to law violation. Sutherland claims that a person turns to criminal behavior when there is an excess of attitudes and values favoring law violation. In theory, Differential Association is one of the most logical explanations of criminal behavior. However, practical application often lessens the significance of seemingly good theories. Hence, I am interested in researching Sutherland's theory to see if it is as thoroughly explanatory as it seems to be. This paper will focus on a subjective test of Differential Association as a theory of criminal involvement.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Language: English
Date: 1984
Differential Association Theory, Deviant Behavior - United States

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