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The Association Between Differential Association Theory And Burglary

1811 words - 7 pages

Differential association theory has a set of seven principles. Differential association theory says that criminal behavior is learned. By this, Sutherland intended for criminal behavior to be classified as a social-learning mechanism and can, therefore, be classified in the same manner as any other learned behavior such writing, talking, and walking (Siegel, 2012, p.237). Sutherland’s next point states that learning is a by-product of social interaction. Criminals learn by what they experience from exposure to the environment. Differential association theory views criminality not as something ingrained or as a result of socioeconomic conditions or physical characteristics but rather family, friends, and peers reflect the influence of the criminals. Differential association theory holds that the criminal techniques are the by-product of a person’s life interactions as well. The learned techniques vary from simple to extremely complex (Siegel, 2012, p.237). Some criminals begin this stage during childhood in which they meet up with mentors to learn to become successful criminals and to achieve the greatest reward for their efforts. These mentors teach the kids how to pick locks, shoplift, and how to obtain and use drugs. Another principle of differential association theory concludes that a person’s perceptions of the legal code influences motives and drives (Siegel, 2012, p. 237). This principle insinuates that criminals perceive the legal code as favorable or unfavorable. The legal codes do not fall into conformity among all citizens in a specified society and a person is almost certain to come across another person who views obeying the law differently.
The associations a person makes during their lifetime may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity (Siegel, 2012, p. 237). The quality of a person’s social interactions, added with how long a person has had the particular association, has significant influence over how a person behaves. The sixth principle associated with this theory holds that the process of learning criminal behavior involves the same learning process as any other learned behavior (Siegel, 2012, p. 237-38). Imitation does not play a significant role in learned behaviors. A person will initially imitate and once he or she learns the action, it is no longer imitation. The final principle of differential association theory states that criminal behavior is an expression of a person’s general needs. The motives are not the same as a person who uses conventional methods to obtain their general needs (Siegel, 2012, p.238).
The exact point in time when a person chooses to become a criminal occurs when that person perceives a favorable outcome over unfavorable consequences. Sutherland believed that people are born well and it is through a person’s contacts of people, groups, and events that negate the unfavorable consequences from counteracting forces (Siegel, 2012, p.238). For children, this theory argues for the...

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