Domestic violence using Sutherland’s differential association theory

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The issue of domestic violence in America’s youth has become a serious concern, with media and video games being identified as major factors influencing violent behavior. The frustration and aggression created by media can stimulate an aggressive response, leading to domestic violence as a way of releasing stress. Sociological theories, such as Edwin Sutherland’s differential association theory, analyze the societal factors that influence such behavior. The theory asserts that criminal behavior, including domestic violence, results from a learning process that takes place in closely associated groups, including family members, peers, and friends. If an individual is surrounded by violent factors and infrequently interacts with non-violent factors, they are more likely to engage in delinquent or violent activities. Many proponents of the theory, therefore, call for strict censorship in all media forms, especially in violence on TV and in video games.

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Youth in America is more indulging in domestic violence acts as media and video games project violence nowadays. Attention to those elements in the society influencing domestic violent acts has become a serious matter since the incident at Columbine High School that took place on 20th of April, 1999. Analysts realize that major factor of today’s society that is negatively influencing our nation’s youth is media and video games. Is the assumption that means of entertainment are really factors in domestic violence is true?

Frustration and aggression created by media generally stimulates an aggressive response. Therefore, domestic violence becomes a way to release the stress resulted by a frustration environment and situation. A jobless husband, who cannot pay the utility bills or get a job, is more likely to beat his spouse (Zastrow, 2009).

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Sociology theories deals and analyze societal elements influencing general public to commit domestic violent acts. Most popular theory that highlights societal factors is differential association theory presented by Edwin Sutherland (An Appraisal, 2003).

He states that criminal behavior causing the domestic violence is the outcome of a learning procedure that mainly takes place in closely associated groups that include family members, neighborhood peer groups, friends, and others like that.  An individual turns delinquent due to the dominance of factors encouraging to violation of law than factors discouraging violation of law. An individual’s decision regarding committing a domestic violent act is based on the type and characteristics of present and past relation with these significant factors. Human beings internalize the values of the society and culture around them. If a man is living in an environment where he is in frequent interaction with violent factors and infrequent interaction with non violent factors, he is more likely to get indulge in delinquent or violent activities (Zastrow, 2009) .That’s why many proponents of differential association theory of Edwin Sutherland have argued about the transmission of unethical behaviors to call for strict censorship in all the media forms, especially in violence on TV and in video games (Ainsworth, 2002).

1.      Zastrow, C., (2009). Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare: Empowering People, 291-292. Retrieved from’s+differential+association+theory.&source=bl&ots=b72xc0yIEf&sig=D0862qmVc0jLN9WqXsDcRPaUgkA&hl=en&ei=7ZLvS-CUAdGOONGYjK8I&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=44&ved=0CPYBEOgBMCs#v=onepage&q&f=false

2.      An Appraisal of Differential Association Theory, (2003). Retrieved from

3.      Ainsworth, P.B. (2002). Psychology and Criminal Behavior, in Y Jewkes & G Letherby (eds.). Criminology: A Reader, Sage Publications, London.

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Domestic violence using Sutherland’s differential association theory. (2016, Jul 07). Retrieved from

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