Social Learning Theory

Thomas Holt

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Social Learning Theory

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Social learning theory has had a distinct and lasting impact on the field of criminology. This framework evolved from Edwin Sutherland’s Differential Association in the 1940s, which argued that crime is learned through interactions with intimate peers where individuals acquire definitions that support or refute the violation of law. This theory was revised in Burgess and Akers 1966 (see Social Learning) to become a Differential Association-Reinforcement model recognizing the impact of peer attitudes and reactions to delinquency. The theory was further revised in the 1970s and 1980s to become a social learning model developed by Ronald Akers. This model builds from the previous work by recognizing the significance of delinquent peers, differential definitions of and reinforcement for offending behaviors, and the influence of imitation of peer behavior. Finally, Akers adapted the model in 1998 to become a macro-level model of delinquency and crime by arguing that social learning mediates the influence of structural factors on offending. This perspective provides a distinct framework to understand the influence of human agency, social forces, and peers on behavior.

Article.  4631 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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