Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: November 23, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412959193 | Print ISBN: 9781412959186 | Online ISBN: 9781412959193| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Sutherland, Edwin H.: Differential Association Theory and Differential Social Organization
Ross L. Matsueda
Edwin Sutherland's development of differential association theory in 1947 marked a watershed in criminology. The theory, which dominated the discipline for decades, brought Chicago-style sociology to the forefront of criminology. It is well known that differential association explains individual criminality with a social psychological process of learning crime within interaction with social groups. Less well known is Sutherland's attempt to explain aggregate crime rates across groups and societies. Here, he specified the theory of differential social organization to explain rates of crime with an organizational process that implies group dynamics. This entry reviews Sutherland's theory of differential association, discusses attempts at revision, and assesses the empirical status of the theory. It also examines recent attempts to revisit and elaborate the concept of differential social organization as well as current areas of research in which it is being used. Sutherland stated differential association theory as a set of nine propositions, which ...