Differential Association Theory

Differential Association Theory 2

DifferentialAssociation Theory

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July19, 2014

Withthe daily advancement of the technology, the use of computers andinternet has become rampant amongst the people. Both computers andinternet are being used almost everywhere since they have simplifiedand complemented human work. However, their rampant usage have posedan opportunity to criminals who violate the rules of using computersand the internet by engaging into the wrong practices which arereferred to as cybercrime. These criminal acts involve the usecomputers and internet to pass on wrong information and stealing ofpersonal data and identities with an evil motive. As a result, thishas provoked a lot of thoughts that try to evaluate and look into themain cause of these crimes leading to the establishment of manytheories. As such, this paper will look into the differentialassociation theory that tries to explain why cyber crime hasdrastically increased in today’s world and its relevance to thedigital crime. Also, the paper will look into other non-digitalcrimes that can be supported by the same theory.

Differentialassociation theory is a criminology argument that views criminal actas learned behavior (Shaun, 2012). This theory argues that, thesurrounding of an individual plays a vital role in choosing whichrules to break and which ones to preserve. Correspondingly, peoplewithin a certain reference group give out the rules of the agreementand the ones to defer with and, therefore, they greatly influence anindividual’s behavior. In addition, the theory argues that, aperson learns the rules from a variety of socializing groups such asteachers, family and parents. In general, therefore, this theorystates that an individual learns criminal behaviors just like anyother behavior from contact with other people.

Cybercrimeis the leading digital crime where criminal tends to use computersand internet to carry out their wicked activities without beingcaught. For one to be able to commit this crime without being caught,he or she must be very intelligent (Mary, 2010). As the theorystates, this will require the criminal to have a well up educationalbackground where he or she will learn the technique of carrying outthis crime. Moreso, these criminals have unlimited access of internetthat encourages them to carry out their criminal acts. This in turnimplies that free wiFi must be available that will encourage thesecriminals to learn the techniques of using the internet and how tocommit their crime.

Additionally,the theory argues that criminal acts are carried out by a group ofpeople who have the same argument of deferring with the well statedrule (Shaun, 2012). It’s vividly clear that those who commit mostif cybercrimes comes together and joins their efforts so as they canachieve their set target. As the theory suggests, joining of forcesof these criminals accelerates their criminal acts since itsimplifies their work.

Furthermore,the theory proposes that the criminal behavior is learned like anyother behavior and, therefore, criminals committing cybercrime tendto learn all the tactics of carrying out this crime. For one tosuccessfully hack into other peoples systems and steal their personaldata, he or she must have a variety of skills of doing so and,therefore, one have to undergo some training and associate withpeople who already have these skills. This is vividly clear sincemost people become hackers after studying a lot of books and havingtheir fellow hackers as their role models. According to Shaun (2012),the behavior of an individual is mostly shaped by his or her familymembers and, therefore, most of the children who wish to be hackersget motivated by either of their family members who inspire them totake after them.

Moreover,this theory continuously argues that, the variation of culturalbelieves amongst different people motivates the criminal acts ofcriminals. Children pornography is yet another form of cybercrimethat is taking over in digital crimes. This crime has resulted fromdifferentiating in cultural beliefs of people where some peopleencourage pornography at an early age whereas others totallydiscourage watching of pornographic pictures and videos. According toEsiegel (2013), the cultural values and beliefs of criminals aredifferent as compared to those of most people and, therefore, to mostof them, putting pornographic pictures and acting pornography is notbad.

Differentialassociation theory also supports the cause of a variety of most ofthe non-digital crimes. A major non-digital crime that fits thistheory is the juvenile gangs that present an enabling environment foryoung people to learn how to become criminals (Shaun, 2012).According to this theory, these gangs worship violence and viewscrime as the only way of achieving their economic and social status.Evidently, these gangs have their own beliefs and rules and,therefore, they tend to hold on their own norms. This in turn changesthe norms of the children who are being raised up at such environmentwhich automatically encourages them to become criminals. Finally,this theory supports the cause of prostitution amongst many peopleyoung people. Once a child is raised up in an area that is dominatedby prostitution, it’s most probable that that child will one dayengage in the practice since his or her beliefs and norms will bechanged at a tender age by those people who are carrying out thispractice.

Inconclusion, therefore, the behaviors of an individual are directly orindirectly shaped by the people that this person associates with.Moreso, the cultural beliefs of different people have a vital role ondetermining who this person will be in the future. In short,therefore, to curb any form of crime, it is essential to ensure thatthe background that one is raised up is as it is required by the lawsince the background is co-determinant of the behaviors of anindividual thus defining who this person will become in the future.


Esiegel,March 2013. CrimeTheories:Study Mode. [Web] Available at&lthttp://www.studymode.com/essays/Crime-Theories-1477606.html&gtRetrieved July 19th,2014

MaryM, Dan O, Feb 17th,2010.Critical issues and Justice:Thought, Policy, and Practice. ISBN 9781412970570. SAGE

Shaun,August 2012. CrimeTheories:Study Mode. [Web] Available at&lthttp://www.studymode.com/essays/Crime-Theories-1060143.html&gtRetrieved July 19th,2014