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Differential Association

DEVELOPED BY criminologist Edwin H. Sutherland, differential association theory has been one of the most long-lasting sociological and criminological theories of our time. Sutherland described his differential association theory in his book, Principles of Criminology, published in 1939.

The theory's popularity, in part, stems from is simplicity and straightforwardness. In particular, his views on the causes of crime can be found in the nine propositions he described:

  • Criminal behavior is learned
  • Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication
  • The principal part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs within intimate personal groups
  • Learning criminal behavior includes learning the techniques of committing the crime, which are sometimes very complicated and sometimes very simple, and learning the specific direction of motives, ...
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