Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency

by Gresham M. Sykes, David Matza
American Sociological Review ()


In attempting to uncover the roots of juvenile delinquency, the social scientist has long since ceased to search for devils in the mind or stigma of the body. It is now largely agreed that delinquent behavior, like most social behavior, is learned and that it is learned in the process of social interaction. The classic statement of this position is found in sociologist E.H. Sutherland's theory of differential association, which asserts that criminal or delinquent behavior involves the learning of (a) techniques of committing crimes and (b) motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes favorable to the violation of law. Unfortunately, the specific content of what is learned as opposed to the process by which it is learned has received relatively little attention in either theory or research. Perhaps the single strongest school of thought on the nature of this content has centered on the idea of a delinquent sub-culture. The basic characteristic of the delinquent sub-culture, it is argued, is a system of values that represents an inversion of the values held by respectable, law-abiding society.

Cite this document (BETA)

Readership Statistics

222 Readers on Mendeley
by Discipline
by Academic Status
28% Ph.D. Student
16% Student (Master)
9% Doctoral Student
by Country
6% United States
4% United Kingdom
1% Australia

Sign up today - FREE

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research. Learn more

  • All your research in one place
  • Add and import papers easily
  • Access it anywhere, anytime

Start using Mendeley in seconds!

Sign up & Download

Already have an account? Sign in