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

Outline and Assess Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Outline and Assess subcultural theories of crime and deviance. Consistently in the news we hear of the rise of certain subcultures, the rise of the 'hoodie culture' in teens for example. However, what exactly is a subculture, and are they really linked to crime and deviant behaviour as much as society believes? A subculture can be defined as a group of people who have their own culture, with their own norms and values, which differentiates from the larger culture to what they belong. Many sociologists have researched into the links between subcultures and crime and deviance, to try and establish whether those involved are more likely to commit criminal behaviour, as official statistics suggest. In the early 20th Century, a dramatic social change was taking place in Chicago, and in response to this emerged the University of Chicago, the first 'parent-school' of subcultural sociology. These Chicago sociologists were determined to appreciate the wide variety of cultures and lifestyles prevalent in Chicago at the time, due to the wide influx of migrants from all over Europe and Southern USA. Through their experimental use of, what we now call, participant observation, they wished to observe and note down the sheer variety and dynamism of urban life. Thanks to this integral research, two important studies were released, Fredric Thrasher's The Gang(1927) and Whyte's Street Corner Society(1943). These two research pieces paved the way for future sociologists to investigate into deviant groups, as it was already established that these groups in society had clear norms and values of their own that justified their different behaviour. Late on in the 1930's, Robert Merton (1938), tried to find how deviance fitted in within a functionalist framework, however, Merton himself was not a functionalist. He decided that crime and deviance were the proof that the individual did not fit into society's accepted goals and did not agree with the socially approved means of obtaining those goals. ...read more.

Middle

This resulted in the rejection of the acceptable behaviour in which they could not succeed. He suggests that school therefore, is the key area for the playing out of this drama, as lower-class children are much more likely to fail and feel humiliated in the classroom. To counteract this and gain status, they 'invert' traditional values and behave badly, engaging in a variety of antisocial behaviour. They may often resort to being the 'class-clown', who fools around and disrupts the lesson, as they feel this is the way to climb up the social ladder. However, many have criticised Cohen, least of all Feminist Sociologists. As with Cloward and Ohlin and Merton, there is no discussion of female deviancy, his study is solely based on males. Also, Cohen failed to prove that school really was the environment in which success and failure are demonstrated mainly. But the major criticism of his work is that he assumes the young delinquents must be brilliant sociologists to work out that they are lower-class, to work out the middle-class values and then invert them to gain status. Many believe Cohen is correct, he has just missed the fundamental point that these individuals are children. Another subcultural sociologist was writing in the 1950's, Walter Miller. He developed an approach to crime, which expanded on Cohen's class based theory. Miller suggested the deviancy was linked to the culture of the lower-class males; suggesting that they have six focal concerns which are likely to lead them to delinquency. The first was smartness; that the individual must look good and also be witty with a 'sharp repartee'. Also, the concern of trouble; the culture of 'I don't go looking for trouble it finds me', it's never their fault, they didn't start it. Focal concern number three links to Cohen and his discovery that crime was committed for the thrill, yet Miller says that lower-class males feel it is important to search out these thrills and so calls this concern excitement. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, Winlow argues these values are most obvious when the economic social structure is changing. He suggests that the traditional working class values fitted alongside physical work, which is now in decline, so they are restless and desperate to prove their masculinity. These values have dispersed due to the rise of office work. He further suggests that these problems greatly affect young males who are out of employment. So, to conclude, there are many different approaches to explaining subculture and its place in society, all of which are as valid today as they were when the original research was carried out, from studying the British 'Street Corner Groups' in the early 1900's, to the participant observation of crack dealers in New York City, all of these theories are still relevant to the gang culture of today. However, looking at the theories, the one society can relate to most is Metza and Subterranean Values. This is very obviously prevalent in society today, from photocopying body parts at the office party and blaming it on the alcohol, to the men who get cleared of rape, claiming the victim isn't a victim as she was wearing clothes which led the man on. Whether subcultures do or do not share common social values will be disputed for many years, yet Maza's techniques of neutralization will be evident in society always, therefore, I believe I identify most with this theory, as it seeks to explain natural patterns of behaviour, not seek to infiltrate gang culture and lifestyles. Having said this, I am particularly interested in Bourgois's El Barrio research as I agree with him and the dealers, crime makes economic sense, why work a nine-to-five for minimum wage, when you can earn enough money on your doorstep? Perhaps, if I had access to a criminal subculture, I would become involved as Cloward and Ohlin said, yet unfortunately my future is even bleaker according to them, a retreatist lifestyle involving drugs or alcohol, good job I believe Merton and feel I am a conformist, adhering to both the socially accepted goals and means. ...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

    Finally, rebellion as a form of deviance is likely to ocur when new goals are substituted for more traditional ones and also new means are undertaken to replace older ones, as by force or armed combat. "Skinheads" is one of the examples of this type of deviance.

  2. describe four studies relating to crime and deviance - each from a different perspective. ...

    Changing social factors and ensuring the criminal justice system is as it should be, could alter crime rates dramatically. (Haralambos, 2000, page 391) John Lea and Jock Young deliver an explanation of this in 'What is to be Done about Law and Order'.

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

    He discovered that the police etc. had to make a series of decisions which were based on a personal set of meanings held by the participants. First of all the police have to decide where to patrol, Cicourel found that they tended to go to inner city, low income areas

  2. Assess functionalist theories of crime and deviance.

    It says that people are biologically selfish but that it is not normlessness that causes anomie but people's reaction to the imbalance between societies emphasised importance of success goals - money, for instance - over institutional means - education and hard work.

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

    Most know that they do not have all the means available to them and this encourages them to work harder and stride towards societies acceptance. And even those in society who are conforming to the society's consensus have to work hard in order to maintain this standing of living but,

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

    the work of Albert Cohen, writing in the mid 1950s (Delinquent Boys, The Culture of The Gang). Cohen was puzzled by the fact that most delinquent acts were not motivated by economic ends, for example, vandalism. His answer was that most delinquents are motivated by status frustration whereby they feel

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

    Strain in the lower classes happens more frequently than in middle to upper classes according to Merton. Frustration with the systems of society, or possibly economic need, is the probable main cause of strain driving these people to criminality in order to achieve their goals.

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

    Wilson and Kelling (1982) developed what has become known as the 'Broken Window' thesis. This suggests that unless deviant and criminal behaviour be kept to a minimal then there will be a gradual deterioration of neighbourhoods, with growing anti-social behaviour like noise, litter, graffiti and vandalism and growing crime rates as a sense of 'anything goes' attitude develops.

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