• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Access the strengths and limitations of Subcultural Theories in explaining deviance.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Access the strengths and limitations of Subcultural Theories in explaining deviance. An official definition of deviance is rule-breaking behaviour of some kind, which fails to conform to the norms and expectations of a particular society or social group. Merton (1968) attempts to explain why deviance arises in the first place and by doing so develops functionalist theory. Merton suggested that our society has a shared consensus around social goals and approved means of achieving them. He says that most people share the same goals in life; we all want our own home and a nice car, a high income, holidays and possessing consumer goods. Most conform to the approved ways of achieving these goals, like getting a good education and then working in paid employment but, in an unequal society Merton argues that not all of us have the same opportunities to achieve these goals and can not conform to the approved mean of realizing them. These individuals face a sense of strain and anomie as their needs do not match up to the dominant rules about how to achieve success and so they respond to their situation in different 'modes of adaptation'. ...read more.

Middle

A weak spot in Cohen's theory is that he assumes that these mainstream goals are deemed to be desirable and greatly accepted by working-class youths and that there delinquent behavior is a response to the goals they can not achieve. Miller (1962) argues against this and suggests that the working-class have always had their own independent culture, and so they are neither rejecting mainstream values nor wanting revenge against society's goals, as they have never lived by or held them. Matza's (1964) study on delinquency found that most young people were not committed to delinquent values and instead accepted society's aims but drifted in and out of delinquency rather than showing commitment to the norms and values. Cohen's theory does though explain working-class delinquency as a group response and not just as individual's behavior, as with Merton's theory. Paul Willis (1979) argued that the creation of deviant sub-cultures amongst working class boys was not simply a response to such things as status denial. Such sub-cultures also represented an organised, realistic, attempt to come to terms with a wider cultural world that had already, by the time they had entered secondary school, earmarked the boys in Willis's study as "failures". ...read more.

Conclusion

collective values- Societies values can only be help firmly in place if people are reminded of the boundaries between right and wrong. A person going against these values and the consequences of their actions have the effect of reinforcing social control. Such events give the opportunity to condemn deviant behavior and, by punishing criminals, reassert the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and strengthen collective values. By enabling social change- without deviant behavior new ideas on how to deal with the delinquents would not develop, enabling society to progress and change. By acting as a 'safety valve'- Deviance can be a way of expressing anger and frustration at society, avoided wider and more serious challenges to social order. By acting as a warning device- Deviance can act as a warning as to more serious underlying problems in society. For example, drug addiction, high rates of suicide and truancy from school. Subcultural theories help to understand that most deviant acts are carried out as some kind of reaction to society's consensus goals and values, whether this is denial, frustration or revenge from unable to achieve success in the eyes of society. But these theories generally talk about male youths and fail to mention why women commit crime and the subcultures they create as wife, mother, and nurturer. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    Like functionalist theory, conflict theory is a macro structural approach; that it, both theories look at the structure of society as a whole in developing explanations of deviant behaviour. Because some groups of people have access to fewer resources in capitalist society, they are forced into crime to sustain themselves.

  2. Evaluate Functionalist Theories of Crime and Deviance

    This theory is predominantly backed by the clear fact that areas termed as "inner city" do indeed have higher crime. However, this theory can be criticized for being too simple, and also because Shaw and McKay's idea of "concentric zones" do not fit in with any city- which have a mixture of different zones in different areas.

  1. Assess the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Different Aims of Punishment

    an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth. The idea being that the criminal must repay society that an injustice would be done if someone could inflict pain without having it inflicted upon him. Here retribution links in with the "utilitarian" theory as retribution also has a deterrent effect.

  2. Assess the usefulness of consensus theories for an understanding of crime and deviance in ...

    to gain a better education, possibly go to university and gain a better higher paid job. But having failed in the legitimate opportunity structure, boys create their own illegitimate opportunity structure and delinquent subculture which inverts the values of mainstream society, turning them upside down.

  1. Referring to the John Duffy "Railway Rapist" case to illustrate, discuss the strengths and ...

    We all operate within a social context and so Canter believes that offences are not separate behaviours from the rest of the offenders life but rather are directly linked to their everyday interactions. Interviews with victims about things that were said at the time of the crime could give an indication of how the criminal normally interacts with others.

  2. The Strengths and Limitations of Left Realism and Right Realism Theories in Explaining Crime ...

    Marginal groups often resort to riots and acts of violence as forms of political action. Left Realist criminologists pay certain attention to practical ways of tackling crime. Richard Kinsey, Young and Lea put forward a variety of suggestions about was of changing policing.

  1. Compare and Contrast the Main Sociological Theories of Deviance.

    indicates a society that is sick, which means that it is suffering from social disorganisation. Durkheim does not, however, provide any indication of what a 'normal' crime rate might be, or how it could be calculated. There was a paradigm shift in criminology in the 1960s which can loosely be called labelling theory.

  2. What is a gang?

    This can happen as early as age 10 or 11. Gangs intentionally recruit children and use them to carry weapons and drugs or commit other crimes because they tend to attract less attention from police. If caught they serve shorter sentences in juvenile detention centers than an adult gang member would serve in prison.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work