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Techniques of Neutralization for different forms of crime

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Provide a specific example of a street crime and a white-collar crime and then demonstrate how the offender could utilize Gresham Sykes and David Matza techniques of neutralization in an attempt to provide no-criminal meaning to their actions.

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Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency Gresham M. Sykes and David Matza American Sociological Review Vol. 22, No. 6 (Dec., 1957), pp. 664-670.

The street crime I will summarize is dealing drugs in an urban area in any major city in America. The white collar crime will be embezzlement at Enron during the height of the company's reign in the early 2000s.

Dealing drugs in urban areas has been a sub-culture and de-facto economy for many years. The circumstances that exist for this to have occurred include lack of investment from businesses into these areas, neglect and unconcern from the federal and state governments, lack of funding for education in these areas, and a lack of employment for residents. Therefore, when a criminal enterprise emerged during the 70s and early 80s that provided opportunities for residents within these areas to obtain monetary upward mobility within their communities and to make money for their families and themselves many decided to begin selling drugs.


As aforementioned in the beginning of the summary, high unemployment, low education, lack of opportunities, and a seemingly constant lack of care or concern by authorities from the government create conditions that are rife for this type of sub-culture to be accepted and foster. In relation to Sykes and Matza technique of neutralization the crime of selling drugs is relatively easily accepted to deflect or reflect attention toward the conditions that created this problem.

Drug dealers can protect themselves from blame to remain guilt free by using the following principles from "technique of neutralization".


The forces that are outside of the control of the dealer have already been mentioned in this summary including poverty, especially in circumstances where social institutions have not attempted to tackle poverty in a way that could otherwise provide economic upward mobility for citizens. The government and businesses that refuse to invest in these areas have created a situation that keeps generations of people in poverty and under this rationalization dealers could justify that selling drugs to make or earn a living is entrepreneurship at its most basic terms. The country has a fondness for entrepreneurs who make their own way and the ability to sell drugs because there exists a lack of other opportunities provides the finances necessary for life that are not available through the conventional means.


In "victimless" crimes where the alleged victim seeks the crime such as ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides the student with an explanation that street criminals and white criminals may attempt to use to neutralize their culpability in their crimes.