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

Examine the Similarities and Differences Between Subcultural Theory and Strain Theory as Explanations for Deviant Behaviour

Extracts from this document...


Examine the Similarities and Differences Between Subcultural Theory and Strain Theory as Explanations for Deviant Behaviour Subcultural theory explains deviance in terms of the existence of social groups, which hold different values to that of mainstream society. Strain theory on the other hand, explains deviance in terms of people who are placed in a position where they are unable to conform to mainstream values, for example the lower classes. While strain theory doesn't use the term subcultures, it does however attempt to give reasons why some groups in society are more likely to be deviant. Merton (1938) attempted to expand on Durkheim's concept of anomie and explain what causes crime within society. He argued that society ascribed to a dominant value with was to 'get rich quick', however only the minority within society had the legitimate means to achieve this success; such as opportunities within education, talent and hard work. There was no equality within society to achieve success legitimately, therefore the majority became disenchanted with society and sought deviant ways of behaving. He argued that a sense of normlessness existed in society, which he termed as an anomic situation, and it was this that caused a strain within society. ...read more.


who applied their theories to subcultures. However where they criticised Merton was in his failing to recognise that an illegitimate opportunity structure existed in parallel with a legitimate opportunity structure. Cloward and Ohlin believed that, depending on socialisation there were 3 types of deviant subculture. Firstly the criminal subculture was the most successful in terms of illegitimate opportunity structures as it provided a chance for individuals to work their way up the criminal 'ladder', and also provided successful criminal role-models. They then posed the conflict subculture; where gangs were formed and violence sometimes erupted between rival gangs, e.g. gang warfare. The final subculture was the retreatist one, where there was no opportunity to enter the first two subcultures. Members felt like 'double failures' and turned to alcoholism and drug abuse. These concepts were mirrored by Sutherland and Cressey (1978), who argued that individuals learn to be criminal by mixing with others of similar interests and backgrounds, which then produces the delinquent sub-culture. Cloward and Ohlin however, were criticised for assuming the whole of society would fit into one of three kinds of subculture. ...read more.


Later work by Shaw and McKay explained the subcultures in Chicago with regard to cultural transmission, whereby as there were no socially accepted values, generation after generation were then socialised to hold deviant values, with crime as culturally acceptable. This is a view mirrored by Murray (1990), however he argues against the idea that environmental or structural issues within society cause this behaviour. Murray believes that there is a subculture at the lowest strata of society, called the underclass, that succeed in socialising generation after generation to hold the same deviant values. He argues, however, that this subculture exists by choice with members who have a work-shy attitude, loose morals and illegitimate children. Murray has been heavily criticised for his views as he fails to take into account issues like rising unemployment as a reason for deviant behaviour. In conclusion, subcultural and strain theories do have some similarities, and much of the subcultural theories posed, owe much to the original ideas of Merton. However they have expanded on his work to further explain acts such as violence and deviance without economic gain. It is therefore fair to say that strain and Subcultural theories share some similarities, yet their differences highlight that they are individual theories on their own right. ...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 Sociological Differentiation & Stratification 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 Sociological Differentiation & Stratification essays

  1. Gender, sub-cultures & subject choice.

    For example, out of 66,000 biology students 40,200 of those were female compared to other sciences such as Physics in which 32,800 out of 43,200 were male. These figures certainly demonstrate the fact that biology is more female-dominated at 'A' level.

  2. Assess different explanations for the causes of poverty in the United Kingdom

    It might be because of their background and where they live that they haven't been able to achieve this reasonable standard of living, consequently they don't look approachable and in comparison to someone who does they then wont get the job.

  1. Sociological theories and Healthcare.

    that are in need however after World War 2 the welfare state was introduced to provide a better care fore these individuals therefore in 1942 a report called Beveridge report came out and we had to get rid of the five evil within the society these were poor housing, poverty, idleness (unemployment), diseases, ignorance (insufficient education)

  2. Is the Underachievement of Ethnic Minority Children due to a Racist School System?

    fact that many peoples views in Norfolk are still old fashioned, and this includes the people how made decisions about the education system in Norfolk. Finally I think that the situation has changed over time, I feel that the view on ethnic minority underachievement has become less deterministic and there has been a clear movement away from cultural deprivation.

  1. Sociological Theories

    Emile Durkheim has stated that "by respecting the school rules, the child learns to respect rules in general, that he develops the habit of self control and restraint simply because he should control and restrain himself" (Horalambus and Holborn, 1990.


    The economy is still basically the same. All these people depend on the Government - the Malay contractors, the Malay lawyers, the businessmen. Now that the Government is not having a lot of projects, all of them are suffering. And they do not know what to do.

  1. Critically Examine The Explanations Offered For The Fact That Working Class Students Are Relative ...

    Much of the research into intelligence quotient (IQ) tests has shown that they are biased in favour of white middle class. It has also been found that there are distinctive subcultures within social classes and ethnic groups, and so the use of the same IQ test for these different people is invalid.

  2. Gender and Education. Explanations of gender differences in subject choice notes.

    Male gaze= for of surveillance through which dominant heterosexual masculinity is reinforced and femininity devalued.! It is one of the ways boys prove their masculinity by telling and retelling stories about their sexual conquests. Boys who don?t display their heterosexuality in this way run the risk of being labelled gay.

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