Differential association is a theory developed by Edwin Sutherland states that criminal behavior is learned through interactions with others. It’s individual-level. The main concepts are criminal behavior is learned; learning takes place in the process of interacting with others; and most of the learning takes place in the interaction of relatives and friends. The theory shows that undefinitions of favorable/unfavorable to crime, techniques for committing crime, opportunities for committing crime are learned from others.
For the reading “Money, Motivation, and Street Culture”, I divided the fast cash motivation into two parts. The first one is “need”. Eighty of 81 offenders who spoke directly to the issue of motivation said that they did robberies simply because they needed money (p.72). It means they are not doing robbery for fun, they do it because they need money. They need the cash for basic necessities such as food or shelter. They need to survive. It’s absence of guardians from Routine activities perspective, because if the guardians took care of their kids, educated them, they won’t be out there doing illegal things.
The second motivation is “opportunity”. Offenses motivated by serendipity rather than basic human need (p.72). the effective example is from one offender said “I see you walking’ down the street and you look like you got some money in your pocket, I’m gonna take a chance and see. It’s just natural…if you see an opportunity, you take that opportunity…” But both need, and opportunity cannot be the excuses for the crime. Perhaps the most central motivation is mindset. From the reading, it is called “life as party”, the enjoyment of good times with minimal concern for obligations and commitments that ate external to the immediate social setting (p.73). This is because they see no future in their life, they view their future prospects as bleak and see little point in long-range planning. Obviously, their reaction of law violation is favorable over unfavorable, because they choose to rob, no matter for what reason. They are sensitive of the opportunity for committing crime. Using routine activities perspective, the offenders are good at finding available targets, it means even when they don’t have the thinking of robbing, they will rob someone if they saw that person’s pocket. They would seize any opportunity to committing the crime.
Another reason they rob is about appearances. To be seen as “with it, one must flaunt the material trappings of success (p.73). It’s like you were walking down the street, and saw a person wearing a shiny necklace, or a gorgeous dress, you realized you want them too, but you don’t have the money, thus, you are going to get that money. The relentless pursuit of high living quickly becomes expensive, and that’s when robbery happens. Using routine activities perspective, the offenders are motivated by basic necessities, inner desire and better appearances, they choose to commit crime.
After analysis the motives, one question need to be cleared. That is why robbery? Why not have a job, or why not borrow? If they go get a job, they don’t need to rob. From the book, there are three reasons. In fact, the offenders’ need is so pressing and immediate that legal work is untenable. They cannot wait for a month to get the salary, they need the money now, or let’s say that they need the money whenever they want it. Moreover, the jobs realistically available to them, almost all of whom were unskilled and poorly educated, which company will want them? Lastly, job requires one to take orders, conform to a schedule, minimize informal peer interaction, show up sober… All these high standards they can’t achieve, and robbery allowed them to flaunt their independence and escape for the rigors of legal work. In the interview, twenty-five of the 75 unemployed respondents claimed they would stop robbing if someone gave them a “good job”. However, the realistic question is that if they would keep the job for long or completely stop robbing after having a high-paying job.
Since the offenders don’t have job, people will not lend money to them because they are not going to give the money back. Also, unemployed, unskilled, and uneducated person often do not expect to solve their fiscal troubles by borrowing. Borrowing is a short-term solution, and loans granted must be repaid (p.75). Another reason of not borrowing from others is that they have beliefs – men should be self-sufficient; the mere prospect of borrowing was repugnant. Some people do robbery is because robbery is safer that other crimes such as burglary.
The more important for why they rob, because robbery was their main line. They learned when they were little. “I have never been able to steal, even when I was little, and they would tell me just to be the watch man…”(p.75). from the Sutherland’s differential association theory, the offender grew up in the environment of crime, the offender’s parents or relatives maybe the main character of his learning object. The offender learned the techniques from them about how to rob, how to catch the opportunity, eventually the offender took the same path as his/her family. Since the offender grew up in this environment, all the things he/her learned from people beside he/her was illegal, he can’t do nothing but learn because he/her didn’t know nothing else.