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Differential Association

Differential Association

Objective 1: Assess Southland's "differential association" theory in relation to professional thieves specializing in the robbery of drug stores.

Some social and criminal behavior is learned from interaction with others or associations. Human behavior is influenced and determined by social and environmental factors. Almost everything we are has been learned. Criminal activities are learned in much the same way as law-abiding ones. Variations in belief and conduct are learned rather than genetically inherited. We are socialized and brought up by society and its norms and values. We are molded to a large extent by society. What is common sense and normal behavior to one society may not be relative to another society. What is one persons common sense may be somebody else's nonsense. What is conforms to normal in one society may be regarded as deviant outside of it.

By associating with deviant people criminal behavior, motive and technique are learned. Criminal behavior is not inherited. A crime can not be committed with out being trained or influenced by other members of a criminal crew. A professional thief would be trained by those who are already professionals. The learning would include the technique of how to commit the crime and what the motive is for committing the crime.

The principles of "differential association" are that society has definitions favorable to following the laws that govern society.. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to the violation of law over definitions favorable to following the laws that govern society. Modern societies have many different subcultures, and behavior that conforms to the norms of a particular sub cultural setting may be regarded as deviant outside it. Professional thieves have the same needs as law abiding people but they choose illegal methods over legal methods.

A professional thief specializing in the robbery of a drug store would work within a small personal group or organization. He or she would be learned by other experienced professional thieves within the criminal crew. This learning would include the technique and operation of committing the crime. The motive, drive and the of general need for the criminal behavior for example personal use of the drugs stolen from the robbery of the drug stores.


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