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Note, the theories we cover next (social learning and social control) are concerned with micro-level social processes, incorporating social, cultural, structural, and interactive factors. These theories move away from explaining crime at the individual level (e.g., rational choice, biological), and instead suggest that criminal behavior is developed through individual socialization, learning, supervision, monitoring, and interaction with others. A key assumption being that delinquents or criminals are essentially no different from non-criminals.
Social learning theory posits that the learning process is the same for all forms of learning, criminal or noncriminal. The key difference is the content of what is learned. Non-offenders learn the values, norms, skills, and motives that conform to convention, whereas offenders learn values, norms, skills, and motives that are contrary to the convention and which equip them with the knowledge, and values, to commit crime. Crime is most likely to happen when ‘criminal’ values outweigh “conventional” values.
A theory of differential association (Sutherland, 1947) is outlined in nine propositions. Essentially, a person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of law over definitions unfavorable to violations of law (proposition six). Proposition six is considered by Sutherland (1947) as the principle of differential association. The theory makes clear that a number of factors such as social class, race, and broken homes influence crime because they affect the likelihood that individuals will associate with others who present definitions favorable to crime.
Differential association-reinforcement theory (Burgess & Akers, 1966) is a reformulated version of differential association theory, and includes seven principles. The theorists emphasize that the specific mechanisms by which the learning process takes place are primarily through operant conditioning or differential reinforcement. Essentially, operant behavior, or voluntary actions taken by an individual, are affected by a system of rewards and punishments.
Your discussion board asks you to take a closer look at differential association theory, social learning theory, and examine how the principles of social learning apply to police misconduct.
Step 1: Post your response to the following:
- In what ways is crime learned through differential association theory (hint: your response should include a discussion of each principle outlined in the theory). What prevention programs could be developed that use learning theories to reduce crime?
- How does social learning theory extend differential association theory? Do you agree with Chappelle and Piquero’s findings that social learning theory provides a useful explanation of police misconduct? Explain.
- Include your own overall question that you had about the readings.
- Your response to each question should be a minimum of 400 words each, answer all parts of the prompt, use proper APA citation style/
- Your question to the class is not required to meet the 400 word count. However, you are expected to give enough information to explain why you are asking your question.
- Demonstrate written communication skills by using complete paragraphs, accurate grammar, and proper mechanics.
- Draw from the readings and other course content to answer the questions. This means that you are expected to include direct references to the assigned chapter as well as other relevant course content.
- Review APA in-text and reference citations