Differential Association Theory Essay

Gangs have decimated many lives and have caused much economic damage in North America. Despite law enforcement effort the Gangs persists to exist. Attribution, snitches, and arrests have done little to stop the Mafia. Gangs are able to continually recruit new members. This paper will discuss from a theoretical framework to answer why people join the gangs. Gangs are able to continually infiltrate communities and recruit members because of broken and poor communities that do not have weak social institutions for socialization ad control and because of societal strain for financial success.
Definition and Economic Cost

In order to understand organized crime and gang membership, a consensus must be formed of the definitions. The term for organized…

The proposition of differential association theory is that criminal behaviour like many other skills is learned (—). The behaviour that is learned by prospective members of a criminal organization occurs through interaction with other members of the group through communication (—). The criminal organization helps teach through tutelage and by example. For instance, when a person decided to join the Mafia they would follow real mobsters and learned how to become a mobster themselves (—). The principle part of the learning of criminal behaviour occurs within intimate personal groups (—). The personal groups involved are friends, family, peers, and personal companions. As social disorganization theory explained, institutions exist to teach norms and values. However, once these institutions fail other non-traditional institutions arise. The issue that occurs is criminal organizations can fill in the vacuum. For example, in areas of lower social economic status gangs may become a predominant figure. Unfortunately, when a criminal organization exists many of the people in that community will be associated with the organization. Consequently, an individual will interact with associates and members of criminal organizations and inevitably learned criminal behaviour. Once learned specific directions of deviant attitudes are learned to justify actions. A new mindset begins to be adopted which helps to rationalize unacceptable criminal behaviour as…

As such, it is crucial to understand why people join gangs. The three theoretical school of thought presented effectively provide a better understanding of the underlying causes to gang membership. Social disorganization demonstrates the importance of legitimate social institutions in a community. A lack of institutions can result in criminal institutions providing socialization which results in an acceptance of criminal norms. Differential association theory essentially proves the saying that “birds of the same feather flock together”. Once a community is disorganized and criminal elements infiltrate members of the community are exposed to gang members and begin to associate with them as their peers. Consequently, the knowledge and skills of mobsters are adopted and deviance becomes accepted. Moreover, strain theory provides evidence that many also seek gang membership for financial benefit. Societal demands place pressure on individual to attain wealth and when legitimate means are inaccessible illegitimate means are utilized. Lastly, control theory illustrates weak communities provide weak control methods resulting in the inability to prevent criminality. The theoretical schools of thought are also expressed by former mobsters in their memoirs with researchers. Gangs are able to continually infiltrate communities and recruit members because of broken and poor communities that do not have weak…