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Consideration of Gender in Relation to Social Learning and Social Structure: A General Theory of Crime and Deviance

NCJ Number
Theoretical Criminology Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: November 1999 Pages: 451-462
Merry Morash
Date Published
12 pages
Ronald Akers' book titled "Social Learning and Social Structure: A General Theory of Crime and Deviance" is discussed with respect its coverage and understanding of knowledge about crimes against women and the relationship to gender to crime types, amounts, and patterns.
Akers has regularly articulated and empirically tested social learning and social structure theory throughout his career; a large portion of this book describes the formulation and persistent testing or theoretically derived hypotheses. However, the book gives scant attention to feminist theory and other gender-focused theories that address the book's central issues, including the initiation, persistence, and cessation of criminal behavior and its versatility and specialization. Akers writes that the General Theory is applicable to all types of criminal and deviant behavior. However, contemporary gender-focused literature on crime and delinquency reflect qualitatively different phenomena than the measures used in most of the research that Akers summarizes and reviews, as demonstrated by an analysis of measures of sexual assault and coercion to have sex. Akers' book also fails to consider or measure gender structure in terms of how patriarchal the structure is in any particular context or how variations in the form and degree of patriarchy might affect crime. The General Theory could improve as a result of consideration of the growing research on crimes against women, crimes by females, and the connection of gender to the crime and delinquency of males. In general, criminologists could also obtain useful ideas for their theories from talking to people in other subject areas as well as criminologists who work within different theoretical frameworks. Note and 25 references (Author abstract modified)


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