Deviance as Learned Behaviour
• Bandura: “Social Learning Theory”--we learn to be deviant through observing and interacting
• It is a byproduct of socialization
• Rejects the macro-level idea that society arises solely from institutions and social structures
• Social learning Theories
1. Differential association (Sutherland)
2. Differential Identification (Glaser)
3. Techniques of Neutralization (Sykes & Matza)
4. Differential reinforcement (Akers)
• Sutherland (1939)
• Deviance is learned from one's subculture and is based on “excess definitions favourable to
violation of the law”
• Must be presented with an OPPORTUNITY to engage in deviance
• Within small, intimate groups, individuals learn both techniques (ex. Skills) AND motives (ex.
Reasons) for engaging in deviant behaviour
• Learning deviance involves:
◦ Opportunity—defining certain situations as the appropriate occasions for deviant
◦ Techniques—Mastering the techniques (skills) of successful deviant activity
◦ Motives—acquiring motives, drives, attitudes and rationalizations which justify deviant
◦ **These are learned via our subcultures!
• Sutherland's 9 Principles
1. Criminal behaviour is learned
2. Criminal behaviour is learned in interaction with others in a process of communication
3. The principle part of the learning occurs within intimate personal groups
4. The learning includes techniques and motives
5. The vocabulary of motives and desires are learned from definitions of the legal codes as
favourable or unfavourable
6. Aperson becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favourable to violation
of law over definitions unfavourable to violation o law
7. Differential associations may vary in;
8. The process of learning criminal behaviour involves criminal behaviour 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
explained by them, since non-criminal behaviour is an expression of the same needs and
values • Examples:
Ideas that Prohibit Crime----------Ideas that Justify Crime
Play fair. Drinking is okay.
Don't be a bully. The end justifies the means.
Forgive and forget. I don't get mad, I get even.
Turn the other cheek. Don't let anyone push you around.
Evil is always punished. People should take drugs if they want to.
Honesty is the best policy.
• Glaser (1956)
• Expanded Sutherland's theory past just the face-to-face interactions
• Indirect, distance reference groups can influence individuals' deviant behaviour
• Strong media effect on deviance
Techniques of Neutralization
• Sykes & Matza (1957)
• Deviant individuals learn to rationalize their behaviour
• Focus on the MOTIVES of deviant behaviour
• Deviant individuals hold conventional values/attitudes but master techniques that enable them
to neutralize these values and drift back and forth between illegitimate and conventional
• “Subterranean Values”
• Continuum: Total Freedom Total Restraint
• Techniques of neutralization—verbal/linguistic strategies chosen by deviants to reconcile one
world to the other
◦ Use these to ward off normative attacks of the social world
◦ Help to counteract moral dilemma posed by illegal activities
• 5 Techniques of neutralization
1. Denial of responsibility—ex. “I didn't know there were drugs here!”
2. Denial of injury—ex. “Well I didn't hurt anyone!”
3. Denial of victim—ex. “They had it coming!”
4. Condemnation of the condemners—ex. “The police are corrupt, the gover