The purpose of this paper is to explain the works of Edwin Sutherland and his theory of differential association. The differential association theory depicts a relationship between a societal structure and criminal behavior. Sutherland illustrates the focuses of differential association into nine detailed tenants. He arrived at these tenants through his different experiences with the theory, and the different versions of his book "Principles of Criminology". Differential association emphasis how an individual' interactions with people can have an affect on criminal behavior. .
Edwin Sutherland born in Nebraska studied his bachelors at Grand Island College and later taught foreign languages at Sioux Falls College in South Dakota (Williams and Mcshane, 2004). After his teaching stint he enrolled in the University of Chicago where he received his doctorate in sociology (Williams and Mcshane, 2004). Sutherland originally came to the University of Chicago as a history major, but soon changed his major to sociology due to the University of Chicago's influence on social environment's factors on a person's behavior (Williams and Mcshane, 2004). He took a liking to the perspective that an individual's social structure can determine the way he or she behaved because at the time most sociologist/criminologist believed that a person's biological figures determined their behavioral status (Williams and Mcshane, 2004). Sutherland felt that sociologist objective was to make generalizations about society not about biological statements (Williams and Mcshane, 2004). His concentration was in criminal behavior, but he deemed that it was vital to understand the correlation between a criminal, and the environment he or she lived in (Sutherland, 1939). He stated in his principles of criminology text "The ultimate objective of the sociologist should be to make universal propositions about society.