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Antisocial Sentiment and Criminality

Gwynn Nettler
American Sociological Review
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Apr., 1959), pp. 202-208
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2089430
Page Count: 7
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Antisocial Sentiment and Criminality
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Abstract

Crime is often called antisocial, as though this were its distinguishing characteristic, and the label then used as an explanation of illegal behavior. But both crime and antisocial sentiment cover many dimensions of behavior and belief. One classic definition of antisocial spirit refers it to the feeling of estrangement from one's society and its major cultural themes. Durkheim and others associate this unsolidary sentiment with crime and immorality, and Everyman comes readily by this doctrine. But when a measure of alienation--based on people known to feel disinterested in or hostile toward our society--is correlated with indices of privately confessed criminality, both the culture-comfortable and the deracine appear less criminal than the moderate conformist although the estranged are more admittedly criminal than the "solidary." The prevalent equation of criminal behavior with antisociality is thus challenged, and the Durkheimian view is both confirmed and qualified.

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