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Lesson 7 – Social Process Theories

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1 Lesson 7 – Social Process Theories
Robert Wonser Introduction to Criminology Crime and Delinquency

2 Introduction Social process explanations
Crime result of interaction between individuals Micro-level view

3 Learning Theories Focus on socialization Differential association
Differential identification Social learning Differential reinforcement

4 Edwin H. Sutherland Differential Association Propositions
Criminal behavior is learned Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication

5 Differential Association
Propositions: The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes (a) the techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated, sometimes very simple; and (b) the specific direction of motives, drives, and attitudes

6 Differential Association
Propositions The specific direction of motives and drives is learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to the violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law

7 Differential Association
Propositions Differential association may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anticriminal patterns involves all the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning

8 Differential Association
Propositions Although criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by these general needs and values, because noncriminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values

9 Evaluating Differential Association
One of the most notable criminological theories Stressed social nature of crime Has received a great deal of empirical support

10 Criticisms of Differential Association
Causal order Self-selection and friends Group nature of crime Difficulty in testing theoretical concepts Emphasis on male subjects

11 Other Learning Theories
Differential identification Daniel Glaser Crime a function of reference groups Values, attitudes, and behaviors to copy

12 Social Learning Theory
Albert Bandura Theory of aggression Aggression is learned, not biological

13 Differential Reinforcement
Robert L. Burgess and Ronald L. Akers Merged differential association and psychological idea of reinforcement Would later become the more recognized, contemporary social learning theory

14 Evaluation of Other Social Learning Theories
Very popular variety of theories Causal ordering issues Reasons for peer influence Not all criminal behavior stems from peer influences

15 Control Theories Some Enlightenment theorists thought people are naturally selfish and capable of committing crime and other antisocial behavior Why do people not become criminals? Personal and social controls Social institutions

16 Containment Theory Walter Reckless Key concepts Inner containments
Outer containments Internal pushes External pressures External pulls

17 Evaluation of Containment Theory
Which comes first, self-concepts or criminality? Does positive self-concept prevent delinquency? Lack of empirical evidence

18 Neutralization Theory
Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza Focus on delinquent guilt and shame Delinquents neutralize guilt through: Denial of responsibility Denial of injury Denial of the victim Condemnation of the condemners Appeal to higher loyalties


20 Drift Theory David Matza Extension of neutralization theory
Delinquents drift in and out of criminal behavior

21 Evaluation of Neutralization/Drift Theories
Popular ideas When does the neutralization occur? Before or after criminal act? Serious offenders do not necessarily experience guilt Has some empirical support

22 Social Bonding Theory Travis Hirschi
Most popular criminological theory today Focus on: Attachment - Sensitivity to and interest in others Commitment - Time, energy, and effort spent in conventional activities Involvement - Morals, values, belief in the law Belief - Participation in convention activities


24 Evaluation of Social Bonding
Has researched males and females Criticisms: Relationship between crime and bonding is weak Are bonds weak or weakened by crime Interrelationship between commitment and involvement Does not explain geographical differences in crime

25 Self-Control Theory Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi
General theory of crime Crime stems from a lack of self-control Focus on impulsivity

26 Evaluation of Self-Control Theory
One of the most popular theories today Circular reasoning Effects of low self-control are not very strong Low self-control a constant over the life- course? Assumption that all crime is spontaneous and unskilled

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