Exploring The "Why" Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Criminal Justice Type: Essay Paper: #35465885 Related Topics: Juvenile Delinquency, Subculture, Genetic Code, Juvenile Crime
Excerpt from Essay :

Theoretical Argument

Techniques of neutralization: a theory of delinquency

Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza commenced their discussion of delinquency by briefly restating the previous findings and conclusions of the specialized literature. Particularly, they revealed how juvenile delinquency is a learnt behavior, which revolved around two primary components. On the one hand, there is the process of learning the techniques by which to commit and cover up for crimes, on the other, the environment that favors the occurrence of crimes. The two authors in discussion as well as the previous works cited fail to mention the genetic component of criminal behavior, namely the predisposition towards criminal behavior of children with criminal parents. While this element is worthwhile studying in the future, the focus of the currently assessed article and the sources to which it refers falls on the environmental and personal aspects of juvenile delinquency.



There is nevertheless, a somewhat positive component of juvenile delinquency in that it helps young boys survive in high crime environments, such as low class and low-income neighborhoods.

The two university professors, authors of the article, argued that this approach of juvenile delinquency has numerous shortcomings. They argued, for instance, that if delinquents were committing crimes out of a distorted sense of right, they would feel some sense of pride -- yet, in many cases, they exhibited remorse and guilt upon having committed a crime. This argument proposed by the authors is a solid point-of-view, but it is insufficient in order to draw a significant conclusion. At this level then, the emotional consequences the delinquents are experiencing should be further assessed by psychologists and researchers.

Then, the authors argued that the values of the subculture of criminality in lower class neighborhoods were interpretable and they did not constitute sufficient rationale to support and explain juvenile delinquency as a way of life. Then, they argued that the delinquents had rules of their own by which they judged what crimes were acceptable by their code and which were not (stealing from friends for instance, or from the church, could be unacceptable behaviors). Last, Sykes and Matza proposed that even when the delinquents were ruled by…

Sources Used in Documents:

All in all, Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza produced a valuable article, ahead of its time, which shed new light on the topic of juvenile delinquency. They focused on the personal and internal justifications delinquents construct for themselves and which, in turn, deem their acts as right, necessary, or at least acceptable. Rather than focusing on the society and the environments in which criminality among children and adolescents flourishes -- which indeed constituted an important piece of the puzzle -- Sykes and Matza went deeper, at a psychological level, and thus stood better chances of understanding and even stimulating change within the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency.


Sykes, G.M., Matza, D. (December 1957). Techniques of neutralization: a theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review. Vol. 22, No. 6, pp. 664-670

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