Sutherland’s Differential Association Theory Applied to Bank Embezzlement

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Sutherland’s differential association theory imputes the cause of crime to intimate social contacts and learnt behaviour (Bernard, et al., 2010 p.180). Sutherland made criminologists aware of “white collar criminals” by introducing the term and by making society aware of middle and high class criminals and crimes (Sutherland, 1983). When Sutherland originally attempted to publish his book on white collar crime the Indiana University and Dryden (who the f is Dryden?) demanded the removal of names from his book, due to possible backlash it would cause and alienation of the wealthy businesses who contributed to the university (Sutherland, 1983). His book was eventually published in 1949 without the names of companies he accused of committing criminal behaviour (Sutherland, 1983). This essay will outline Sutherland’s theory in greater depth; explain what constitutes bank embezzlement, who the most common type of person to be an embezzler is and reasons why they commit this crime. Ways in which Sutherland’s theory could explain these crimes will be considered and reasons as to why differential association theory does not have a strong link to explaining bank embezzlement. Sutherland’s theory consists of nine points and is unchanged to this day. His theory had two basic elements, firstly it pointed out that criminal behaviour is learned by the interaction within intimate personal groups through communication this includes techniques for committing the crimes (Bernard et al., 2010 p.180). Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990) contest this statement explaining the average delinquent act may be committed before the interactions with other delinquents as the crime may need no special skills (Smith & Brame 1994). The delinquent behaviour and the pleasure derived from the act may cause the attraction to and joining of a delinquent social group meaning this behaviour is not learned

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