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How Does Social Learning Theory of Criminologly Best Explains Terrorism - Essay Example

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[Author’s Name] How Does Social Learning Theory of Criminology Best Explains Terrorism? Introduction The shift toward increased terrorism within the society is challenging and needs to be better understood…
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Download file to see previous pages Social Learning theory suggests that behavior is learned. Individuals learn behavior through interactions with others. Specifically, individuals learn criminal behavior through exposure to definitions favorable or unfavorable to criminal actions (Akers “Social Learning and Social Structure” 10-21). This indicates Akers' assumptions about humans. The first of these assumptions is that at birth everyone is essentially a blank slate, and is in need of socialization that occurs in a learning process. The second assumption Akers makes about human beings in this theory is that they are rational beings. This can be described by saying that people, through their actions, seek pleasure and avoid pain, integrating the rational choice perspective (Akers “Social Learning and Social Structure” 25-40). For example, when applying this idea to terrorism, an individual may come into a situation in which he or she rationalizes the action that they are committing due to religious, social or political reasons. The ultimate intention of the individual is to utilize the fear and intimidation created by their actions to bring about socio-political change (Schmid and Jongman 10-15). The outcome of this event is part of the rationalization of the action. This demonstrates the concept of increasing pleasure and reducing pain. Akers also explains that behavior is viewed as either motivated or controlled. This motivation or control stems from four major dimensions of Social Learning theory. These four dimensions are differential association, definitions, differential reinforcement, and imitation (or modeling). To understand social learning, the concepts of differential association, definitions, differential reinforcement, and imitation must be defined (Akers “Social Learning and Social Structure” 10-21). Differential Association Differential association is "the process whereby one is exposed to normative definitions favorable or unfavorable to illegal or law-abiding behavior" (Akers, “Criminological Theories”, 143-144). This process occurs in an individual's peer groups. Peer groups can be either primary or secondary. Primary peer groups include friends and family. Secondary groups include institutions, schools, and the like. These groups not only expose the individual to definitions favorable or unfavorable to criminal behavior but also provide models to imitate and reinforcements for criminal or non-criminal behavior. Due to these multiple aspects of the peer group, this dimension is sometimes viewed as the most important dimension of social learning theory (Chappell & Piquero 108). An individual's differential associations are also affected by priority, duration, frequency and intensity. This simply means that the associations an individual has that appear earlier, last longer, occupy more time and involve others with which the individuals have close relationships with will be of more importance in forming the definitions favorable or unfavorable to certain behaviors. Once an individual develops a definition for or against a certain behavior they are more likely to perform that behavior. Definitions There appears to be no clear consensus on what Sutherland meant by the term "definitions." The interpretation that Akers provides includes techniques for the commission of crimes as well as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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