Neutralisation Essay

1695 Words 7 Pages
Techniques of Neutralisation: The use of Excuses by Thieves and Juvenile Delinquents
The definition of crime in any given society is governed by the prevailing values of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and the legislations that act as formal sanctions to deter offences. Previous understandings of delinquent subcultures (see Cohen 1958) suggest that crime occurs when individuals develop moral codes that directly oppose the beliefs of dominant society. The works of Skyes and Matza (1957), and Cromwell and Thurman (2003) suggest an alternate explanation of deviancy, with specific reference to juveniles and retail theft, in explanations referred to as Techniques of Neutralisation. In accordance with this theory, individuals are able to ‘drift’ in and out of delinquent subcultures and behaviours (Matza 1964). Since their popularisation, neutralisation techniques have been used as tools of enquiry when researching the rational thoughts of offenders (see Taylor 2014; Taylor 2016; Cromwell & Thurman 2003; Harris & Daunt 2011; and Copes 2003). Despite the support
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The broad category of theft, generally defined as the dishonest appropriation of “property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it” (Crimes Act, 1958 (Vic), s. 72) provides a rich platform for inquiry. Between July 2014 and June 2015 approximately 24,500 young individuals (aged 10-19) were found by police to be partaking in some form of theft (ABS 2016b). On top of this, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that up to 46% of personal robbery is unreported and therefore unprosecuted (ABS 2016a). This is evident particularly in the events of retail theft, as highlighted in Taylor’s (2016) report on theft aided by self-service checkouts; the average shop-lifter will steal 95 times before they are

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