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SOC*2700 Ch 9.doc

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SOC 2700
C Yule

Friday, Feb 1, 2013 Chapter 9: Learning Theories - strain and learning theories are complementary with each other but they have different emphases Basic Psychological Approaches to Learning - learning refers to habits and knowledge that develop as a result of the experiences of the individual entering and adjusting to the environment - one of the oldest formulations about the nature of learning is that we learn by associa- tion - basic sensory experiences become associated with each other in the mind because they occur in certain relationships to each other as we interact with the object - Aristotle formulated 4 laws of association: law of similarity, law of contrast, law of suc- cession in time and the law of coexistence in space - associationism has been the dominant learning theory through the centuries to present - the behaviorist revolution substituted observable stimuli and responses for the mental images and ideas of earlier times, but retained the basic idea that learning is accom- plished through association - there are 3 ways individuals learn through association: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and social learning theory - social learning theory emphasizes the point that behaviour may be reinforced not only through actual rewards and punishments, but through expectations that are learned by watching what happens to other people - social learning focuses more on human learning than animals learning, since it directs attention to higher mental processes Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory - Edwin Sutherland focused primarily on unemployment - theory consists of 9 points: 1. Criminal behaviour is learned 2. Criminal behaviour is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of com- munication 3. The principal part of the learning of criminal behaviour occurs within intimate personal groups 4. When criminal behaviour is learned, it includes: (a) techniques of committing the crime, (b) the specific direction of the motivates, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes Friday, Feb 1, 2013 5. The specific directions of the motives and drives is learned from definitions of the le- gal codes as favourable or unfavourable 6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favourable to viola- tion of law over definitions unfavourable to violation of law 7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. This means that associations with criminal behaviour and also associations with anti-criminal behaviour vary in those respects 8. The process of learning criminal behaviour by association with criminal and anti-crimi- nal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning 9. While criminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and values, it is not ex- plained by those general needs and values, since non-criminal behaviour is an expres- sion of the same needs and values - Sutherland’s theory has 2 basic elements - the content of what is learned includes specific techniques for committing crimes, ap- propriate motives, drives, rationalizations and attitudes and more general “definitions favourable to law violation” - they are all ideas not behaviours - the process by which the learning takes place involves associations with other people in intimate personal groups - Sutherland’s description of the content of what is learned was derived from Mead’s ar- gument that “human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them” - in Mead’s theory, a cognitive factor (meanings) determines behaviour - Mead also argued that “the meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction one has with one’s fellows” - Sutherland argued that the meaning of criminal acts arises primarily from the mean- ings given to these acts by other people with whom the individuals associates in intimate personal groups - these associations vary in “frequency, duration, priority and intensity” - there are numerous divergent associations organized around different interests and for different purposes - it is inevitable that some of these groups will subscribe to and support criminal patterns of behaviour, - Normative Conflict - the situation in which different social groups hold different views about appropriate ways to behaviour in specific situations and circumstances - in a situation of differential social organization and normative conflict, differences in be- haviour arise because of differential associations Friday, Feb 1, 2013 Research Testing Sutherland’s Theory - tended to focus to the explanation of juvenile delinquency, because delinquency is largely a group phenomenon in that juveniles are likely to commit crime and delinquency in the company of other juveniles - cultural and subcultural theories are based on Sutherland’s arguments about norma- tive conflict and focus on the content of what is learned The Content of Learning: Cultural and Subcultural Theories - focus not eh role of ideas in causing criminal behaviours - characterized by the argument that it is the ideas themselves, rather than the social conditions that directly cause criminal behaviour - Walter B. Miller presented a cultural theory focusing on the explanations of gang delin- quency - he argued that the lower class has a separate, identifiable culture that is distinct from the culture of the middle class and this culture has a tradition at least as old as that of the middle class - where the middle class has “values” the lower class has “focal concerns” - Wolfgang and Ferracuti presented a general theory of criminal violence, called the Subculture of Violence - designed to explain one type of homicide, the passion crimes that were neither planned intentional killings nor manifestations of extreme mental illness - underlying conflicts of values between the dominant culture and this subculture of vio- lence - people in the subculture tend to value honour more and human life less - “it’s either him or me” - each individual may respond to a situation violently because they expects the other individual to respond violently, even if neither appr
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