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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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