How Delinquents Violate Social Norms And Still Maintain Positive Self Images Of Themselves

How Delinquents Violate Social Norms And Still Maintain Positive Self Images Of Themselves

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Theories have often been developed to explain how delinquents violate social norms and still manage to maintain positive self images of themselves. Neutralization theory, developed by Gresham Sykes and David Matza in 1957 set out to do just this. Critics, however, have claims that the theory, on it’s own, is not a sufficient explanation for adolescent’s participation in crime in delinquency. It has also been claimed by critics that neutralization theory is best viewed as a components of larger theory of crime and can be incorporated into other theories such as social bond theory.
As mentioned above, neutralization theory was developed by Sykes and Matza in 1957 in which sought to explain delinquency as a result of adolescents using the techniques of neutralization (Sellers and Akers, 2013). These techniques, as described by Sellers and Akers (2013), were justifications or excuses used by adolescents to commit deviant acts, which were essentially accepted rationalizations proposed by society. If an adolescent used these techniques it did not necessarily mean they did not agree or reject the values instilled in conventional society, it simply meant that adolescents used a set of subterranean values that evade conventional values and rationalize the deviant acts they have committed, thereby allowing the adolescent to drift into and out of delinquency (Sellers and Akers, 2013).
Sykes and Matza formulated five techniques which included, denial of responsibility, denial of injury, denial of the victim, condemnation of the condemners, and appeal to higher loyalty. Essentially, according to Skyes and Matza these techniques lessened the effects of social controls. The first technique of neutralization, denial of responsibility is whe...


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...ssful in explaining why crime tends to occurs more often in a particular age group. Reduced strain is more likely to occur, according to Agnew (1997; 2006) simply because adults are able to exercise more control and autonomy over their lives, have a smaller, more intimate friend group, and experience less turnover in significant others and peers (As cited in, Eitle, 2010). Adults also become more experienced with employing coping strategies beyond crime and deviance, such as power and money, and cognitive strategies, such as a reinterpretation of negative events, therefore allotting them the opportunity to manage strain in legitimate ways (Eitle, 2010). Possessing such resources clearly explain why it is that criminologists are more inclined to accept that individuals in certain age group are more inclined to commit crimes when in comparison to people of other ages.

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