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Assess the principles, strengths and weaknesses of theories concerning Subcultures.

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Assess the principles, strengths and weaknesses of theories concerning Subcultures. In any society, there are always those who differ from that which are held to be the commonly accepted values. These groups will often find themselves isolated in a common community, with shared values and belief systems. However, these groups can often be seen as a source of fear ands hatred by the community at large, and often become seen as the root of social problems. Among sociologists, there have been several trends of thought to explain how these "subcultures" affect the world of common crime. Many sociologists hold that subcultures emerge as a result of problems which are not faced by the larger society as a whole. These problems may result in the people contained within a certain subculture to act in a way that does not conform to the traditional views of beliefs of the larger society as a whole. This view of subcultures is often referred to as the "Strain" theory, and is supported by several sociologists, the most notable of whom is Robert Merton. ...read more.


These subcultures emerge when individuals in similar circumstances find themselves virtually isolated or neglected by mainstream society. Thus they group together for mutual support. Subcultures exist within the larger society, not apart from it. The members of the subculture are different from the dominant culture. However, the strain theories only explain why subcultures form, and not how they continue to shape, or how they effect crime. The development of a subculture that has already taken place is known as "extension of social disorganisation" and the continuation of that subculture to another generation is known as "extension of differential association." An example of how subculture can continue from one generation to another was proposed by the sociologists Marvin Wolfgang and Franco Ferracuti. They suggested that once a subculture becomes defined it will develop it's own norms and values. In their paper "Subculture of Violence," they showed what could happen if violent behaviour became the norm for a subculture. ...read more.


Another focal concern is "excitement." Living on the edge for thrills and doing dangerous things as well as taking risks is a crucial concern. Another focal concern is that of fate. It is a crucial concern to the lower class. Many believe that their lives are subject to forces outside of their control. The last focal concern focuses upon autonomy. This signifies being independent, not relying on others and rejecting authority. Ideas regarding subculture are these days perhaps more important than ever before. There has been great attention in the press recently to the subcultures in Britain, in particular to the Asian subcultures that are on the increase in certain areas of the country. Crime statistics seem to suggest a high level of crime committed by black members of most communities, and these results have caused a great deal of controversy both about the nature of crime and the nature of policing. With these and other developments, it seems likely that ideas about subcultures will grow and continue to be embellished, while the society around us provides more problems to which people feel forced to react against in a deviant nature. ...read more.

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