• 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 the sub cultural theories and the strain theory as an explanation for criminal and deviant behaviour.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Examine the similarities and differences between the sub cultural theories and the strain theory as an explanation for criminal and deviant behaviour. There are many explanations for criminal and deviant behaviour which differ according to theoretical background. Sub cultural theories, and Merton in his strain theory, attempt to explain its existence and in doing so they make certain similarities and differences. A sub-culture is a group which shares some of the norms and values of mainstream culture, but which distorts those values in order to show their rejection of mainstream values and norms. Groups will develop sub-cultures as a collective response to the problems which they experience. Example of a subculture can be an 'ethnic minority' subculture. This concept has been used by functionalists in the USA, Marxists in Britain and New Left Realism. In the 1930's, Robert Merton tried to locate deviance within a functionalist framework. For Merton, crime and deviance were evidence of a poor fit (or a strain) between socially accepted goals of society and the socially approved means of obtaining those desired goals. The resulting strain led to deviance. Merton argued that all societies set their members certain goals, and at the same time they also provide socially approved ways of achieving these goals. ...read more.

Middle

They argued that Merton had failed to appreciate that there was a parallel opportunity structure to the legal one called the illegitimate opportunity structure. By this they meant that for some subcultures in society a regular illegal career was available, with recognised illegal means of obtaining society's goals. A good contemporary example of this is given in Hobbs book Bad Business. Hobbs interviews successful professional criminals and demonstrates how it is possible to have a career in crime, given the right connections and 'qualities'. According to Cloward and Ohlin, the illegal opportunity structure had three possible adaptations or subcultures. The first was Criminal; this adaptation is where there is a thriving local criminal subculture, with successful role-models. Young offenders can 'work their way up the ladder' in the criminal hierarchy. Secondly was Conflict; here there is no local criminal subculture to provide a career opportunity. Groups brought up in this sort of environment are likely to turn to violence usually against other similar groups. Thirdly was Retreatist; this tends to be a more individual response and occurs where the individual has no opportunity or ability to engage in either of the other two subcultures. The result is a retreat into alcohol or drugs. Cloward and Ohlin's work has been criticised as it also fails to discuss females. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both Merton and Cloward and Ohlin attempt to explain crime and deviance by using sub categories. Cloward and Ohlin and Marxist sub cultural approach and Merton all define crime as a response to the gap between the goals society has set and our opportunities to achieve them. There are various differences between the sub cultural theories. According to Merton we respond individually to the goals that society has set, while Cloward and Ohlin believe that we respond collectively in 'subcultures' or 'groups'. Merton Bases his explanation of crime and deviance on economic motivation, while Cohen offers a different explanation that suggests status is more important for many young criminals. Merton states that we all share common goals of society, while Miller states that lower classes have their own norms and values that are very different from others. This includes 'toughness' and need for excitement. Merton does not explain where the goals in society that we strive to achieve have came from, while the Marxist sub cultural approach points to the existence of capitalism as the root cause. Merton's strain theory shares many similarities with some of the sub cultural approaches as those such as Cloward and Ohlin have used his work as a starting point for their own theory on crime and deviance. However, with these similarities come many differences on the definition of crime and its application in society, including the motivation for criminal and deviant activity. ?? ?? ?? ?? Stephen McTeggart 1 ...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

    The causes of female crime and deviance 1. Women's liberation Postmodern feminists claim that the increase in female aggressive behaviour is linked to shifting gender roles. They also argue that the rise in female white-collar crime is linked to the increase in female participation in the workplace.

  2. Marxism is a structural theory, as people's actions are shaped by society and in ...

    While David Gordon argues that crime is rational, it makes sense. In a 'dog eat dog' society where competition is the order of the day, individuals must fend for themselves in order to survive. In evaluation , Marxists have been criticised for assuming that a communist system could solve crime.

  1. Examine the differences between Muslims living in the UK and Muslims living in Saudi ...

    whilst their non-muslim friends have a larger variety of foods to choose from. In Saudi Arabia this is not the case.

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

    solutions to crime, as the police, the public, the victim and the offender are all involved in crime, they all need to be involved in reducing crime rates.

  1. Examine strain theories as an explanation of crime and deviance in contemporary society

    In later years, strain theory was cited as a major impact on the writings of Cloward and Ohlin who argued that there was a parallel opportunity structure to the legal one, called the illegitimate opportunity structure.

  2. Examine the similarities and differences between subcultural theory and strain theory as explanations of ...

    In comparison to the conformist, the ritualist will reject the goal but still go about the standard means of doing so. A ritualist may go through the motions of going to college and working 9 to 5, but will not attempt to fulfil the goal of earning excess amounts of money.

  1. The consensus theory of criminal law

    People trespassing those laws are punished severely. Thousands of illegal drug user in jail are a prime example. But elite individuals are not punished at all if they get and use similar but perfectly legal drugs. Drugs that are easily available through the help of say physician's friends.

  2. To what extent is Robert Merton's theory of 'anomie' helpful in understanding crime in ...

    Merton understood the importance of individual differences however and importantly noted the fact that not everyone that was unable to achieve society's goals through the accepted means turned to deviance. His primary aim therefore, was to understand why some people conformed to the socially accepted methodology and others didn't, or became deviant.

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