Social Learning Theory

Authored by: Wesley G. Jennings , Ronald L. Akers

The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415482745
eBook ISBN: 9780203880548
Adobe ISBN: 9781134015580


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This chapter provides an overview of Akers’ social learning theory as an explanation for crime and deviance. It begins with a discussion of the theoretical origins of social learning theory and provides an overview of the four core elements of the theory. The following section offers a brief review of the empirical research testing the applicability of social learning theory for explaining variation in crime and deviance. The recent macro-level theoretical extension of social learning theory (e.g., social structure and social learning theory) and relevant empirical tests are also briefly discussed. The chapter concludes by offering suggestions for future research investigating the utility of social learning theory as a general theory of crime and deviance.

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