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
Sykes, Gresham M., and David Matza: Techniques of Neutralization
Heith Copes & Shadd Maruna
Many theories of crime suggest that one of the most important elements in the process of criminal engagement is the psychological process of sanitizing the conscience so that it can be accomplished without suffering guilt. For this reason, much has been written about the ways that offenders make sense of or account for their criminal acts and related behaviors. Perhaps the most well-known explanation of this process was proposed by Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza with what is now referred to as neutralization theory . According to Sykes and Matza, when offenders contemplate committing criminal acts, they use linguistic devices to neutralize the guilt of committing crime. By doing so, they can commit crime without serious damage to their self-concept. This simple explanation of crime has had a tremendous impact on criminological theory. This essay describes the theoretical foundation of the theory and its place in the history of ...