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

Critically Evaluate The Contribution Made By Subcultural Sociologists In Understanding Crime & Deviance

Extracts from this document...


Critically Evaluate The Contribution Made By Subcultural Sociologists In Understanding Crime & Deviance. There have been many sociological explanations in attempting to understand crime and deviance in our society, some of the earliest being the contributions made by Subcultural sociology and interpretivists. Before Subcultural sociology however, crime and deviance was explained by social control: Durkheim's state of anomie as well as Etzioni's communitarianism focused predominantly on a breakdown of social cohesion and changes in the community. These theories centred on how changes in our society produced deviant behaviour. Subcultural sociology however centres on how those who commit crime hold different values to mainstream society and how these values can 'justify' crime. Many subculturalists have adapted different theories but all centre on understanding how deviance is more apparent within white working class boys; based on the national statistics for crime, which at the time (1950+) were seen as accurate. Whilst these theories have their strengths which will be illustrated next, we can also see how they are flawed. Following on the work of �mile Durkheim, Strain Theories have been advanced by Merton (1938), Cohen (1955) & Cloward and Ohlin (1960). Robert K Merton used Durkheim's notion of anomie to explain how societal 'strain' or pressures can result in 1 of 5 collective responses, thus it can be explained as a Subcultural response to crime and deviancy. ...read more.


According to Cohen 'lower-class' boys in the education system seek to emulate middle class values and aspiration but simply lacked the means to do so. This led to his main thesis of status frustration. The result, the boys rejected the patterns of 'acceptable' behaviour and indulged in antisocial acts, not motivated by money but in an attempt to gain status. In his study on Folk devils Cohen coined the term 'moral panics'. He was attempting to explain how violence that broke out between two subcultures was amplified by the media; the 'amplification' serves to appeal to the public so that they concur with ready-made opinions about the course of action to be taken. Subculture can give an individual identity, collective goals, homogeneity - these qualities may have sparked violence but Cohen is suggesting the media amplification was a major factor for the deviance these groups implemented. Cohen has been criticised for his gender blindness, there are no discussion of females in his work. Other sociologists criticise his delinquents for knowing what middle class values are. Cloward & Ohlin offer a different explanation, they comment on the illegitimate opportunity structure. Until now, we had assumed that there was one legitimate opportunity structure in our society. Cloward and Ohlin criticised Merton for not noticing a parallel structure that his strain theory didn't account for. ...read more.


These can be in forms of denial; a belief in a greater good, condemnation of condemners, the offenders feels they're being picked on. Matza however is assuming all of us have deviant desires which can be evoked at anytime. This is far too deterministic. He also assumes there are no distinct subcultures in our society which have different values to mainstream. From the evidence so far it's clear that subcultural sociology offered a variety of explanations to explain crime and deviancy. In conclusion, postmodernists have heavily criticised the concept of the collective believing crime and deviance is an individual response that doesn't need economic or any other form of motivation. Katz (1988) offers the explanation that crime can be 'seductive' Young males get drawn into it, not because of a process of rejection simply that's exciting. Lyng further concludes young males like taking risks and being o the edge, meaning being on the edge of acceptable behaviour and flirting with danger. While we can see Subcultural sociologists offer a variety of explanations to explain why young males deviate we must remember much of their work is dated to the era when crime statistics were seen as accurate. Nowadays we know there is a huge amount of crime that isn't recorded; therefore the national crime stats are a 'social construct'. This would mean Subcultural sociologists who offer no explanation for female offending is highly flawed. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jason Kane ...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. Evaluate subcultural explanations for crime and deviance

    Cloward and Ohlin agreed with Cohen on the structural origins of crime, ie. The class system, but stated that the form of working class delinquent subcultures take depends on their access to criminal networks, and that only when working class youths have access to these that criminal subcultures emerge, and

  2. Critically assess the contribution of labelling theory to an understanding of crime and deviance

    As you can see all of these decisions have been made on the basis of the police's idea of the 'typical delinquent'. The police expect working class youths to be the ones committing the delinquent acts and therefore it is only the people matching such a description which get arrested and charged.

  1. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    The ruling groups in society develop numerous mechanisms to protect their interests according to conflict theorists who argue that law, for example, is created by elites to protect the interests of the dominant class.

  2. Outline and Assess Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance

    The final adaption is known as Retreatist, and this tends to be an individual response which occurs when the individual has no exposure or opportunity to be involved with the other two subcultures of Criminal and Conflict. The result therefore, is a retreat into alcoholism or drug dependency.

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

    cultural goals, cultural norms and the institutionalised opportunities available within the social structure. Not everyone can become rich and successful, the American/British dream is not achievable by all, the opportunities for success are limited, and from this strain, disjunction occurs.

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

    The other four types of behaviour are categorised by Merton as deviant, although each has a different level. Innovation comprises of people who accept the social goals of society but commit crime in order to achieve them. Petty thieves and 'con men' are put into this category along with the unemployed and low skilled workers.

  1. 2 Examine critically the contribution of labelling theory to our understanding of deviance.

    However evidence shows that there are still clearly inequalities in the division of labour in the household. According to the British Social Attitudes survey (1992) most women still do the majority of household tasks even when they are in employment themselves. According to the Office for National Statistics (online 2003)

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

    A lack of discipline and teachings of what is right and wrong as a child could mean that those who are already prone to crime become much more likely commit to criminal acts later on in life. In a traditional nuclear family with strong family bonds children can be condition

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