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Sutherlands Differential Association Abstract The purpose of this paper is to examine Edwin Sutherlands theory of differential association Following a brief history of Sutherlands ideas is a summary of the main ideas and premises of his differential association theory Also included is a review of studies which attempt to test the validity of Sutherlands theory Theoretical Criminology attempts to explain theories of why and how crime occurs by examining the various facts related to criminal behavior and crime These theories offer the sociological psychological and psychiatric views of the causes of crime and other forms of deviant behavior Among these is a group of theories referred to as learning theories which focus on the ideas and behaviors that can be learned the processes by which that learning occurs and the structure of support and encouragement for law violation Perhaps the strongest and most prominent of these theories is Edwin Sutherlands Differential Association theory As a sociological interactionist Sutherlands viewpoint on the etiology of crime was that there existed certain processes or relationships that could explain all crime in spite of its great variety Edwin H Sutherland 1883-1950 gradually formulated and systematized his theoretical ideas of criminal behavior by attempting to create a general theory that could organize the many diverse facts known about criminal behavior into some logical arrangement Vold 1998 Through the many editions of Sutherlands books there is evidence of his continued attempts at clarifying and expand on his own ideas to form a concrete and sustainable theory of criminology The first edition of Sutherlands Criminology 1924 he set out to examine the various concrete conditions that might explain the causation of criminal behavior but as his research progressed he came to reject all concrete conditions as having any validity in predicting
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