Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Minor, W. William

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Matza; David; 1930-; Criminal psychology; Criminal justice; Administration of


David Matza (1964) has postulated a model of the neutralization of legal norms by which certain techniques are used to abrogate or release the moral bind of law. A preparatory condition for this tendency to neutralize offenses is identified by Matza as a sense of injustice, described as a fatalistic state of mind in which there is a marked contempt and distrust of legal agents of the law. This study is an exploratory investigation of the proposition that the actual court experience of an offender instills a jaundiced attitude favorable to the neutralization of the moral bind of law. Self-reported criminality was scrutinized by race, sex and social class, reported feelings of injustice, court experiences and the propensity to neutralize offenses. It was assumed that the results of this analysis would aid in better understanding of the interplay between violation of the law and various attributes of the sample within the framework of Matza's theoretical model. Specific differences were found with respect to criminality and various subgroups of offenses according to sex, race and social class. Matza's theoretical model was largely supported by the data with emphasis on the place of injustice feelings within the etiology of neutralization of offenses and criminality. Other specific findings were supportive of more contemporary work inthe area of neutralization theory.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


viii, 99 pages




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