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Delinquency and Drift David Matza

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Erika Pierce

on 8 February 2011

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Transcript of Delinquency and Drift David Matza

Delinquency and Drift Theory David Matza
Professor Emertius Understanding the theorist Education
B.A in 1953 from College of the city of New York
(Currently known as University of New York)

M.A from Princeton in 1955

PhD from Princeton in 1959 department of Economics and Sociology

Post Doctoral Fellow in program for Behavioral Science and Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1960-1961 Teaching experiences Temple University instructor from1957-1959

University of California, Berkley, Assistant, Associate, Full and Emeritus Professors from 1961- present Awards Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Program For Behavioral Science and Law, U. of Chicago Law School

C. Wright Mills Award, 1966, for Delinquency and Drift

Guggenheim Fellowship, 1967-1968 Theory’s Matza has Developed a few theories such as:
Gresham Sykes and David Matza Techniques of Neutralization Techniques of Neutralization, are a theoretical series of methods by which those who commit illegitimate acts temporarily neutralize certain values within themselves which would normally prohibit them from carrying out such acts, such as morality, obligation to abide by the law, and so on. In simpler terms, it is a psychological method for people to turn off 'inner protests' when they do, or are about to do something wrong. Matza and Sykes based their theory on four basic facts seen in society. 1)     Many delinquents feel or express remorse and guilt because of the criminal act.
2)     Delinquents frequently show respect for those citizens who are law-abiding.
3)     There is a limit to whom they victimize, they must distance themselves form their victims.
4)     Delinquents can be effected by their surroundings and are susceptible to conformity. Skyes and Matza Juvenile Delinquency and Subterranean Values Matza and Sykes further develop their views on delinquency as a result of a deviant sub-culture, which exposes the individual to crime and in turn teaches deviant behavior or subterranean values, which cause them to deviate from the norms of society. They observed several values present, which they define as subterranean values.  
First, delinquents search for a thrill or an adrenaline rush.  This “rush” they seek is not easily accomplished through law-abiding means.  The excitement may even be a result of the fact that the behavior is not accepted.  

Secondly, they do not view normal occupations as worth the work when they can make more money doing illegal acts.  Some researchers also noted that the behavior may not have solely monetary purposes, but also to gain rank and prestige among other criminals. 

 Lastly, the deviant becomes aggressive because of their alienation from society (Matza and Sykes, 1961). This is clearly seen in gang rivalries when violence is used to protect “turfs” and reputations.  The purpose of this aggression is to show how tough they are and that they have achieved manhood.  Delinquency and Drift Alone, Matza expressed additional thoughts on juvenile delinquency.  He believed that individuals go from one extreme to another in their behavior, known as drift. 

Matza believes that juveniles drift between conventional and criminal behavior.  

Drift is explained as a gradual process, which results in molding the individual’s behavior.

Once the crime is committed the delinquent feels guilt and must balance their behavior by returning to act in a law-abiding manner.  Drift can be described as soft determinism, which views criminality as partly chosen and partly determined.  The will to commit a crime occurs when one of these conditions is present; preparation and desperation.  These allow the individual to form the decision to commit a crime.  
Preparation occurs when a criminal act is repeated once the person realizes that the criminal act can be achieved and is feasible. 

 Desperation activates the will to initially commit a crime because of an extraordinary occasion; or fatalism, which is the feeling of lacking control over ones surroundings Matza also believes that “there is a subculture of delinquency, but it is not a delinquent subculture”
 He also suggests that there are several ways in which a delinquent senses injustice (an underlying condition of drift); through;
cognizance,
consistency,
competence,
commensurability and
comparison.  Matza believes that the juvenile’s connection to law-abiding behavior diminishes when they feel that an injustice has occurred.
Cognizance is defined as to whether or not the juvenile is aware that he/she committed a wrongful act.  Even when they are caught in the act or confess their crime they still may not actually “own-up” to the criminal act in their mind.  

Consistency represents whether or not the juvenile feels that they are receiving the same treatment as everyone else who has been involved in the same criminal behavior. 

Competence is an issue revolving around those who are in judgment of the juvenile.  

Commensurability refers to the relation between infraction and sanction.  In other words, does the juvenile believe that their act should even result in a punishment and if so the punishment should fit the crime.

Comparison results when juveniles evaluate the legal system and notice that there are laws, which only pertain to them and not adults.  Some juveniles do not want to accept that they are any different from adults. Examples of Matza Delinquency and Drift Theroy; During the 1950's and 1960's the citizens of the United States were torn because of social and political struggles

Matza believes that delinquents are angered over a sense of injustice, which they feel not only from law enforcement but also from community reactions. His ideas on delinquency were strongly influenced during the 1950's, which saw the beginning of the civil rights movement with the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.  In 1954 the Brown vs. the Board of Education desegregated schools and in 1955 the Montgomery bus riot furthered the desegregation to public areas.  The desegregation produced a lot of tension, which caused some citizens to react with protests and even violence.

With all of these movements came protests. Protestors were arrested and even physically battered, the police were treating them like they were hard criminals.  This correlates to Matza’s idea that crime is just a reaction to improper or biased legal institutions.  He also states that deviance is caused by desperation or the feeling of having no control.  Those protestors felt they had no choice but to express opposition towards certain ideas, otherwise where will all of the governmental controls end.  Matza uses the idea of neutralization to justify certain crimes; those protestors who were considered criminal were forced to act out using the denial of responsibility neutralization.   
Matza’s theory of deviance stated that people choose and are partly predisposed to committing crime.  With the beginning of the 60's he states that deviance is supported by excitement, risk taking and adventure.  The protests of civil rights gave the generation most affected the chance to act unconventional.  

 These changes, however, all occurred over the course of several years, which coincides with Matza’s theory, which concludes that delinquency caused by drift is gradual and has several influences.  

Matza also stated that delinquents would drift between criminal and conventional behavior, which explains why not all teenagers were involved.  He has also stated that those who were likely to drift are not as likely to commit crimes as adults. Recent Applications Several current theorists have looked to Matza’s theories of Delinquency and Drift to help their own related studies. For example: In a more recent study by Mitchell, Dodder and Norris (1990:487) they focused on the “relationships between church attendance, delinquent peer association, the tendency to neutralize and self reported delinquent behavior”.  The study suggested that delinquents seek acceptance from society which results in them using neutralization techniques to rationalize their acts.  They also concluded that the effect of neutralization has the strongest effect towards delinquency.  When looking at females, neutralization was less effective of a justification as opposed to males.  Neutralization was also found to be more viable towards Anglo-males than for either females or Mexican Americans.  Mitchell and Dodder (1983) in an earlier study looked at the uses of certain neutralization towards different types of delinquency.

A study by John Hagan focused not on neutralization, but on the concepts related to subterranean values and drift.  Hangan’s findings “support the thesis that adolescents form distinct and internally coherent sub-cultural preferences that have class-specific effects on their trajectories toward adult occupational prestige” (Hagan, 1991:580).   Hindelang (1970) also studied drift theory when related to their feelings of obligation towards the criminal act.  He concluded that delinquents have no moral barriers that would prove neutralization techniques were necessary. Even though Matza theories came out over 30 years ago it still has its place in the Criminology and Sociology world today.
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