Criminology Questions

A number of policy implications in criminal justice arise from the theory of differential association. The conception that criminal behaviors can be learnt implies that it is possible to teach offenders legal behaviors. It is therefore possible to consider rehabilitating especially juvenile offenders through re-socialization and re-education (Regoli, Hewitt & DeLisi, 2010). Re-educating and re-socializing the society can be a tool for behavior change but may not work for cognitive changes.

This is the approach many supporters of the theory of social learning have used to justify media censorship such as violent video games and television programs (Regoli, Hewitt & DeLisi, 2010). Do you think it is appropriate to implement policy based on the differential association theory? Why or Why not? It is appropriate to implement policy based on the theory of differential association as the theory attempts to explain the basis of all types of crimes. The theory asserts that criminals are just like other citizens abiding the law with the exceptions of a few societal elements that stray them (O’Connor, 2006).

The learning process seems to be homogenous among the criminal and non-criminal societies and the reasoning that criminal behaviors are driven by general values and drives should be considered futile (O’Connor, 2006). It instead should be a challenge to policy makers to understand the definition of criminal activities origin. This can be done by understanding the structural causes that lead to the original desire or need to engage in criminal activities. According to Cohen, what are characteristics of delinquent gangs?

According to Albert Cohen, delinquent gangs are negativistic, malicious and often non-utilitarian (Regoli, Hewitt & DeLisi, 2010). Delinquent gangs commit malicious behaviors out of spite. Other characteristics of delinquent gangs identified by Cohen include group autonomy, short-run hedonism and versatility. Versatility is shown among delinquents in their tendency to dabble in a number of delinquent activities such as vandalism, stealing, truancy, trespassing and other criminal acts. Short-run hedonism is mainly observed among delinquent as being impulsive and impatient.

The individuals, according to Cohen, are out of fun and the lower class parents have inadequacies in socializing their children on the basis of the acceptable societal norms and values. As school children from lower-class families lose the competition for status, they get strained and form delinquent gangs (Regoli, Hewitt & DeLisi, 2010). How do these characteristics influence our understanding of criminal behavior? The characteristics identified by Cohen make a significant influence on our understanding of criminal behavior as something induced.

The observations made by Cohen match with the theory of differential association which maintains that criminals and non-criminals are all alike except for the prevailing conditions which differ. A typical situation of competition in school tells us that the low class status makes the children from poor families to fail and form delinquent gangs. In Cohen explanation, we are able to understand the emergence of the subculture of delinquency among juveniles (Regoli, Hewitt & DeLisi, 2010). What social heritage and historical factors shaped the Chicago School?

Chicago School boasted the availability of competent researchers such as Edwin Sutherland, a sociologist and a symbolic interactionist and Merton in his theory of strain. Sutherland is acknowledged for integrating the understanding of criminology with sociological theories such as differential association. Earlier on, the work in understanding the significance of social interactions and symbolic interactionism by Mead instigated to Sutherland’s development of the theory of differential association.

Among other factors which led to the development of the differential association theory were the Sellin’s conflict in culture and the cultural transmission in Chicago School. In about 1920 and 1930s, sociologists in Chicago had developed the perspective of social disorganization which had shown deviance as a precursor for rapid social transformation (Elliot & Merril, 2009). The sociologists agreed on the contribution of rapid sociological changes in the breakdown of community governance. This led to the researchers discovering the reasons behind the vulnerabilities to criminal attempts in socially disorganized regions.

What does the term social disorganization mean? Social disorganization refers to some criminological theory that attributes the variation in delinquency and crime over a given period of time and territories to communal institutions breakdown or absence (O’Connor, 2006). Social disorganization can well be understood on the basis of breakdown or absence of a specific relationship type existing among a certain population. The concept of social disorganization attempted to explain delinquency, crime and an array of social problems.

References:Elliot, M.A., & Merril, F. E. (2009). Social disorganization. New York: Happer & Brothers        Publishers.Regoli, R.M., Hewitt, J.D & DeLisi, M. (2010). Delinquency in society (8th ed). Sadbury, MA: Jones  and Bartlett Publishers.O’Connor, T. (2006). Megalinks in criminal justice: social disorganization theories of crime.       Retrieved August 8, 2010 from,