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

Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in understanding of crime and deviance.

Extracts from this document...


Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in understanding of crime and deviance Subcultural theorists argue that delinquents commit deviant acts because they see the world from a different point of view, thus portraying there is something 'wrong' with them. It has been argues that delinquents have a 'distinct set of values' which shape the way they act, these distinct values within the main society is known as a subculture. Cohen (1955) set out to explain why most deviant acts such as graffiti or vandalism are not motivated by economic rewards. Cohen concluded that these delinquents felt they had low status among the community and searched for ways to improve their status, this suggestion can be supported by the fact that most delinquents are low educational performers living in deprived areas. The effects of school can be clearly linked to delinquency - high performers receive rewards for their good acts whereas low performers gain no recognition and therefore feel worthless, Willis' study (learning to labour) of schoolboys shows how fatalistic children carry on their poor behaviour outside of the school, thus affecting their out of school activities. With this fatalistic approach the delinquents brand themselves as failures and develop a subculture of their own values. Cohen suggests that for these lower class boys subcultures have two functions, 1. To create an alternative set of values that they can measure their behaviour and compete for status among their peers, and 2. ...read more.


and being 'sharp'), Excitement (men on the lookout for fun), Fate (believe little can be done about their lives), Autonomy (do not wish to be 'pushed around' so resent authority such as the police or a boss) The ideas of Miller are expressed in Parker's study 'View from the boys' it shows adolescents in Liverpool on a night out were not looking for trouble but should anyone hint they are not manly a fight may well follow. On the nights out the boys attempted to pick up girls often on how they look (smartness). When the boys go out they are wanting to have fun (excitement) but do not know what will happen when they leave their house (fate) but do not wish to be pushed around by bouncers or the police (autonomy). However studies such as Parker's stress that these values are only found within working class males whereas this may not be case. Research in Britain, however, as found that the factors influencing crime only stress how ordinary delinquents are. Matza (1964) claimed that delinquents do not posses distinct values neither are they propelled by subcultural forces strong than themselves. Instead he argued delinquents are similar to everyone else in a sense that they hold the same values as the rest of society and show remorse for their acts. Matza pointed out that we all have two levels of values. The values that guide us most of the time (respectable, conventional ones) ...read more.


The youths in this study tended to focus more on their leisure values than middles class youths. Studies by Patrick and Parker showed how the subcultural theory could be split into positivistic and Marxist strands. Patrick's 'Glasgow gang' study gave an in depth inside perspective of why people commit crime. By using covert observation Patrick was able to find a presence of tightly organised gangs formed around a strong psychotic leader. Whereas Parker's study suggested that a structural Marxist analysis was needed to understand the situation and views that lead youths to boys. Many Subcultural studies have followed a positivist approach, studies which adopted this approach found that no one single variable that is the cause of crime but a number of 'shifting' variables differed within each individual, this became known as the multi-casual approach. A study by West and Farrington found five factors as possible sources of delinquency, these are low family income, large family size, comparatively low intelligence, having a parent with a criminal record or having parents considered to be unsatisfactory in rearing children. Youths who are subject to these conditions are likely to commit a number of deviant acts. It has been suggested that it is far more beneficial for children to come from a bad family living in a good neighbourhood rather than a good family in a poor neighbourhood, this can be used to criticise the findings of West and Farrington by suggesting the environment is much more influential than the youths family. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology 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 GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Compare and contrast white collar crimes and street crimes, while understanding the definition of ...

    We as a society, generally define our concepts by our surroundings. Society is more frequently exposed to street crimes though televisions show like Cops. It is very rare that a day goes by that we do not learn a murder, physical attack or robbery through the media.

  2. Sociological Theory and Methodology - Crime and Deviance.

    problem living up to the stereotype as this is what is expected of him this is what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. These stereotypes that are abound in society today effect the way individuals view others, these individuals can include teachers law enforcers and judges and those that fit

  1. Critically evaluate the various sociological theories of crime and deviance including: Functionalist, Marxist, Labelling ...

    This is why there is criminal law. The law marks the extremities of acceptable behaviour, when someone is arrested it is because his actions have been unacceptable to society. The drama of arrest and prosecution publicises these boundaries and serves as a warning to others.

  2. Is Delinquency a major factor in youth culture, what theory best explains delinquency?

    Since September 11th there is at least one article about the Taliban or al-Qa'ida in the paper everyday. Although horrific one article on the front page of the news can send ripples through society creating moral panics. But only a few cases like the Stephen Lawrence and September 11th are remembered, maybe to the large scale publicising of the issue.

  1. Evaluate the Contribution that Subculturalist theory has made to our Understanding of Deviant Behaviour.

    An example of such is Margaret Thatcher created emphasis on individual success in the 1970's and 1980's which contributed to a rise in property crime. Albert Cohen developed his theory in 1955 by combining Robert Merton's concept of strain theory with the ethnographic ideas of the Chicago School of sociology.

  2. Free essay

    Discuss how far sociologists would agree the usefulness of the OCS in measuring and ...

    Many women find this a sensitive issue to talk about, and if it had occurred a long period of time ago, they may not remember certain key points. As a result of this, seeing as victim surveys are primarily done after crimes are committed, it therefore leads to inaccurate information being added to the OCS.

  1. Reasons for differences in amount of convictions for corporate crime, and conventional crime

    The systems in society are not equal and money strongly links to power and this influence can exert itself in the form of escaping legalities through means of wealth. This is witnessed by the ever-striving, often hard-working bourgeoisie who may choose to obtain by illegal methods.

  2. Evaluate 2 social theories of crime

    Parsons considers that the roles played by the family and the education system are vital to social order and maintenance of the status quo. The Functionalists believe that everybody has the same opportunities in life, if you work hard and follow the norms and values of society then your objectives in life can be met.

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