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

subcultural theory

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Sub cultural theory " To what extent do Functionalist sub cultural theories help to explain the relationship between the environment and crime?" (40) Subcultural theories share the common belief that people who commit crime usually share different values from the mass of law-abiding members of society. For example, some groups of criminals might develop norms that encourage criminal behaviour. On the other hand, some members of society would regard this as immoral and wrong. A subculture is defined as " a subdivision within the dominant culture that has its own norms, values and belief system". These subcultures usually emerge when individuals find themselves isolated or excluded from mainstream society. Members of subcultures are not any different from other members of society; however, they do hold a set of their own "amended" values that justify their criminal behaviour. Sociologists find it useful to distinguish between two main types of sub-culture; Reactive and Independent. A "reactive sub-culture" is one in which the members of a particular sub-cultural group develop norms and values that are both a response to and opposition against the prevailing norms and values that exist in a predominantly middle-class or conventional culture. In this respect, this form of sub-culture is also sometimes called "oppositional". An "independent" subculture is when members of the group hold a set of norms and beliefs that are "self contained" and specific to the group. An independent subculture is different to a reactive subculture in that they are not opposed to the prevailing norms and values in society. This essay is now going to look at Robert Merton's "Strain theory" (1938). In the 1930s, Robert Merton tried to locate deviance within a functionalist framework. ...read more.

Middle

Instead, they create their own subculture, with its own norms and values. In doing this they are rejecting mainstream values, which offer them little chance of success, and substitute deviant values in which they can be successful. Cohen's work has been criticized for a number of reasons. One reason is that he fails to make any references to women and sub-cultural development. This is because that since the primary role for women is that of a mother; she will find status within the home. On the other hand, career women will find status within their work, therefore subverting the need to create alternative forms of status. He has also been criticized by David Matza (1964), who questions the view that most delinquents are strongly opposed to mainstream values and strongly committed to delinquent gangs. In his research in the USA, Matza found that the majority of youths who were seen as delinquent accepted society's mainstream values, and only occasionally committed offences. This essay is now going to look at Cloward and Ohlin - Delinquency and opportunity (1961). Cloward and Ohlin (1961) combine both Merton and Cohen's in their theory of illegitimate opportunity structures. However, they have criticized Merton's theory by arguing that he failed to explain the different forms that deviance takes. For example, why do some delinquents concentrate on vandalism whereas others on theft? They begin their argument from the same view point of Merton, in that believe there is more pressure on members of the working class to deviate as they have less opportunity so succeed by legitimate means. Cloward and Ohlin have distinguished between possible responses to this situation: Criminal subculture, Conflict subcultures and Retreatist subcultures. ...read more.

Conclusion

In order for some adolescents overcome the feeling of powerless, they need to take some action that will 'restore their mood of humanism', and committing a delinquent act assures them of at least some response, even if it is a negative one. This evidence suggests that delinquents are similar to everyone else in their values and voice similar feelings of outrage about crime in general as the majority of society. However, unlike other explanations, Matza argues that individuals "drift" in and out of crime but do not commit to it. He argues that when they do commit deviant acts, delinquents often express "regret" and "remorse" at what they have done. There are critiques to Matza's attack on subculturalist theory however. Stephen Box (1981) questioned the evidence that Matza used; he argues that delinquents may not be sincere when they say that they regret their actions. Jones (1998) adds that Matza's theory cannot adequately explain persistent delinquency and violent acts. Despite these drawbacks, Matza's work has raised some important questions about deviance. In conclusion, functionalist sub cultural theories have been very useful in explaining the relationship between deviance and society. For Merton, crime and deviance were evidence of a poor fit between the socially accepted goals of society and the socially approved means of obtaining these desired goals. This poor fit (or strain) led to deviance. However, other functionalists have argued that all societies will contain certain groups who develop their own distinctive subcultures, with its own norms and values that are different from mainstream society. Within these subcultures, individuals can obtain their goals through crime and deviance. On the other hand, David Matza would counter argue this, claiming that individuals are committed to the same values and norms as other members of society and that delinquents will often express regret and remorse at committing a deviant act. Jessica Pemberton ...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. Access the strengths and limitations of Subcultural Theories in explaining deviance.

    Cloward and Ohlin suggested that the route to delinquency involved one of three subcultures: Criminal subcultures- In this situation, the young delinquents have access to a criminal subculture. Such subcultures emerge in areas where there is already an organised, adult criminal community.

  2. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    occurs among the middle class and elites and because it understates the degree to which disadvantaged groups share the values of the middle class. Disadvantaged groups may share the values of the middle class, but cannot necessarily achieve them through legitimate means.

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

    People react to societies strains in different ways and for Merton, these individual differences could be summed up in 5 groups; conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Individuals who fall under the conformity genre accept both the goals as well as the set methods for achieving those goals.

  2. Compare and evaluate Subcultural theory and labelling theory

    The social environment plays a big part in how they will develop their norms and values, by what opportunities they have, with this evidence Cloward and Ohlin identified three types of delinquent subcultures. 1. The criminal subculture, this subculture tends to develop in areas when there is already a well-established pattern of adult crime; it provides an illegitimate opportunity structure.

  1. Outline and Assess Subcultural Theories of Crime and Deviance

    They say that there are some people who border on the lines between categories. Also, some believe it is too ethnocentric. Valier (2001), criticised Merton for his stress on the existence of common goals in society. Valier argues that instead of such great social consensus, there are in fact a

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

    Innovators look to fulfil the goals of society but instead of going about it through established channels, as conformists do, they will find other means to reach their goals. Examples my include business moguls such as Steve Jobs, or groups such as the Mafia.

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

    Punishment strengthens social solidarity through the reaffirmation of moral commitment among the conforming population who witness the suffering of the offender. Durkheim also argues that the elimination of crime is impossible; this is because there are, and always will be, differences between people.

  2. 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

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