Edwin Hardin Sutherland (born August 13, 1883, Gibbon, Nebraska, U.S. died October 11, 1950, Bloomington, Indiana) was an American sociologist. He is considered as one of the most influential criminologists of the twentieth century. He was a sociologist of the symbolic interactionist school of thought and is best known for defining white-collar crime and differential association, a general theory of crime and delinquency. Sutherland earned his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1913.
Background and Early Education
Sutherland grew up and studied in Ottawa, Kansas and Grand Island, Nebraska. In 1904 he received s B.A. from Grand Island College, and after that, he taught Latin, Greek, history, and shorthand for two years at Sioux Falls College in South Dakota. In 1906 he left Sioux Falls to enter graduate school at the University of Chicago from which he received his doctorate. He changed his major from history to sociology. Much of his study was influenced by the Chicago school's approach to the study of crime, which emphasized social and physical environmental factors, rather than genetic or personal characteristics, as determinants of human behavior.
Sutherland's historical importance rests upon his having introduced (in a 27 December 1939 speech to the American Sociological Association, titled The White Collar Criminal) the concept of white-collar crime, a concept which violated existing prejudices that aristocrats can do no wrong (which was famously expressed in the ancient legal view that a king could do no wrong).
After completing graduate studies, he solidified his reputation as one of the country’s leading criminologists at the University of Minnesota, where he worked from 1926 to 1929. During this period, he concentrated in sociology as a scientific enterprise whose goal was to understand and control social problems. In 1930, Sutherland accepted a position as a research professor at the University of Chicago. He then moved to University of Illinois. He finally took a position at Indiana University, where he remained till the end of his career. He founded the Bloomington School of Criminology at Indiana University.
During his time at Indiana, he published four books, including Twenty Thousand Homeless Men (1936), The Professional Thief (1937), the third edition of Principles of Criminology (1939), and the censored first edition of White Collar Crime (1949), his masterpiece. It remained censored until the original text was published in 1983 by Yale University Press.
Sutherland was elected president of the American Sociological Society in 1939, and president of the Sociological Research Association in 1940. If he had not already become prominent within the sociological profession prior to his introduction of the concept of white-collar crime in 1939, one can only speculate whether the seminal concept would have been published, as America's largest corporations threatened to sue the publishers of White Collar Crime. (They were successful, and had all references to the names of litigating corporations removed from the text.) When Yale University Press issued the unexpurgated version in 1983, the introduction by Gilbert Geis noted that Sutherland's concept of white-collar crime "altered the study of crime throughout the world in fundamental ways".
He was the author of the leading text Criminology, published in 1924, first stating the principle of differential association in the third edition retitled Principles of Criminology (1939:4-8) that the development of habitual patterns of criminality arise from association with those who commit crime rather than with those who do not commit crime. The theory also had a structural element positing that conflict and social disorganisation are the underlying causes of crime because they determine the patterns of people associated with. This latter element was dropped when the fourth edition was published in 1947. But he remained convinced that social class was a relevant factor, coining the phrase white-collar criminal in a speech to the American Sociological Association on December 27, 1939. In his 1949 monograph White-Collar Crime he defined a white-collar crime "approximately as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation."
"Differential Association Theory" 1940 1. Social life is not disorganized but patterned through learned behavior. "how to" skills: how to engage in deviant acts come from legitimate world but used in negative context. "want to" attitude: thrill seeking, power, ego feed" DA = definitions favorable to violations / definitions unfavorable when numerator is larger than denominator = deviance favorable depends on: frequency, duration, priority, intensity
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (1924) Principles of Criminology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (1936) With Locke, H.J. 24,000 Homeless Men, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (ed); Conwell, Chic (pseudonym) (1937). The Professional Thief: by a Professional Thief. Annotated and Interpreted by Edwin H. Sutherland. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. LCCN 37036112.
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (1942) Development of the Theory, in Karl Schuessler (ed.) Edwin H. Sutherland on Analyzing Crime, pp. 13–29. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (1949) White Collar Crime, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
- Sutherland, Edwin H. (1950) The Diffusion of Sexual Psychopath Laws. American Journal of Sociology, Issue 56: pp. 142–8