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Social Learning Theories-Class Notes

by: Alyssa Zirkman

Social Learning Theories-Class Notes SOC 371

Marketplace > University of Miami > Sociology > SOC 371 > Social Learning Theories Class Notes
Alyssa Zirkman
GPA 3.8
Intro to Criminology
Olena Antonaccio

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About this Document

Lecture material plus my own notes and examples on social learning theories
Intro to Criminology
Olena Antonaccio
Class Notes
25 ?




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alyssa Zirkman on Tuesday October 20, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOC 371 at University of Miami taught by Olena Antonaccio in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 14 views. For similar materials see Intro to Criminology in Sociology at University of Miami.


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Date Created: 10/20/15
Social Learning Theories Class Notes Theoretical Overview Nature of Society Con ict Human Nature Conformity is Natural Level of Analysis Micro Causal Factors Culture Community Peers 0 MechanismsBehavior is Learned Micro explains why individuals commit crime not society Strain Theory said everything is based on a consensus HERE nature of society comes from con ict sociological perspective no agreement on values in societies so different groups endorse different values 0000 Sutherland s Differential Association Theory DAT 1930 s tried to critique strain theory cannot just explain crime by saying everyone wants to be wealthy Nine Principles of DAT see p2078 in text summary below Crime is learned through social interaction involves all regular learning mechanisms and cannot be explained by general needs and values eg a desire to become wealthy o What these mechanisms are is not explained by DAT Learning includes 0 Techniques and skills 0 Definitions motives drives rationalizations cognitive beliefs ideas about situations and laws favorable and unfavorable to law violations Crime results from an excess of definitions favorable to crime vs unfavorable to crime Differential associationsquot vary by 4 dimensions 0 Frequency eg you have friends you see at school and every day they talk about drugs so now you are more likely to do drugs 0 Priority in time what comes earlier in your life is more important than what comes later eg family before recent friends 0 Duration the longer the association with sources who provide you definitions favorable to crime more likely to commit hanging out with those drug friends for an hour a day versus ten minutes 0 Intensity how much you look up to the source of definition could be a person or institution 0 these should be looked at together to determine person s likelihood of committing crime Causes of crime operate through definitions and techniques Community De nitions Di Family l I rime School Assoc Peers Techniques 39 Theory was written in the 1930 s so now we have more sources of learning media internet film etc Evidence for Differential Association Theory Strongly supported by research Peer association 9 attitudes towards delinquency 9 delinquency DAT explains diverse crimes 0 Delinquency drug amp alcohol use 0 White collar crime 0 Professional theft 0 Sexual aggression Once peers and attitudes are taken into account social bonds are not very important control theory Extensions of Differential Association Theory Differential Opportunity Cloward amp Ohlin combines anomie amp Sutherland s DAT Neutralization Techniques Subculture Theories Social Learning Theory Techniques of Neutralization Matza amp Sykes An example of an ambiguous social learning theory some conventional values sometimes deviant values 0 Combination of DAT and others 1 Subterranean i deviant values vs conventional values 0 Definitions favorable to breaking the law but only in some circumstances do those deviant behaviors come out on a daily basis people adhere to the dominant cultural norms conventional values ZLift between conventional and illegitimate deviant behavior 0 The transition from mainstream to subterranean values 3 Techniques of Neutralization allow for drift 0 Denial of responsibility not my fault I was drunk so it s alcohol s fault that guy provoked me it s his fault o Denial of injury it s ok to steal from Walmart because it is such a big company they won t even notice if a single pair of shoes is missing 0 Denial of victim beating up a homeless person and saying it s ok because he is homeless and therefore not a person or prostitute etc o Condemn the condemners you committed the crime but the cops arresting you are worse than you because they are corrupted and taking bribes and they are worse than you try to make yourself look better 0 Appeal to higher loyalties justifies the crime for a higher cause gang initiation etc Subcultural Theories Content of Learning in the 50 s and 60 s 1 Miller s Lowerclass culture Focal concernsquot Theory 0 Miller observed the poorer areas of the city and saw a type of lower class culture they endorsed particular values known as quotfocal concerns which generally lend themselves towards favorable de nitions of crime these beliefs are endorsed in these areas so people follow them to fit in with the norm 0 Trouble people are not afraid to get into trouble especially with the authorities considered weak if you are not getting into trouble 0 Toughness get involved in fights to prove toughness physical aggression fits in with the rules of the neighborhood 0 Excitement law violating activities generally bring about excitement 2 Subculture of Violence Theory Wolfgang amp Ferracuti 0 Violent values in a community expectation is violence over reasoning something out I Used to explain higher homicide rates in southern US Research is inconclusive measures of a subculture are complicated On average southerners endorse violence the same amount as northerners but more often in the South people have weapons and promote using them more Higher homicide rates in South could be explained by poverty or other factors Social Learning Theory Akers 1998 Akers came up with Social learning theory to expand upon DAT kept the ideas and de nitions but made improvements by stating the learning mechanisms that Sutherland mentions but does not explain Differential Reinforcement and Imitation the principal learning mechanisms 0 Imitations if more important in earlier stages of life young children do what they see others doing 0 Positive reinforcement favorable to crime you did drugs or stole and you didn t get caught and you enjoyed it or profited off of it so you will probably do it again Definitions the content of learning cognitive elements such as attitudes values knowledge Differential association a process through which the learning mechanisms operate Conclusions on Learning Theories Strengths of social learning theories 0 Apply to a wide range of behaviors 0 Account for conventional and unconventional in uences unlike other theories like Social Control Theory Limitations 0 Learning process difficult to observe eg establishing a correct causal priority what if birds of a feather ock togetherquot 0 Does not explain specific patterns of associations 0 Does not explain unplanned or spontaneous criminal acts no learning or exposure needed


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