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Techniques of Neutralization

The techniques of neutralization help explain why individuals sometimes engage in acts that they generally condemn, particularly criminal and other deviant acts. The techniques refer to a set of beliefs that justify or excuse such acts under certain circumstances. For example, individuals who generally condemn violence may believe that violence is justifiable if one is insulted or to protect the honor of one’s gang. This entry describes the major techniques of neutralization and the research on them.

Development of the Techniques of Neutralization

The techniques were first described by Gresham Sykes and Davis Matza in 1957. Many prominent criminologists at that time argued that criminals, especially gang members, were part of an oppositional subculture that rejected conventional values and generally approved of acts such as violence, theft, ...

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