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Critically Examine the Subcultural Approach to Crime and Deviance.

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Introduction

Critically Examine the Subcultural Approach to Crime and Deviance. Subcultural theories share the common belief that people who commit crime usually share different values from the mass of law-abiding members of society. However, crime committing people do not live in complete opposition to mainstream values; rather they have 'amended' certain values so that this justifies criminal behaviour. As a way of structuring this particular discussion of sub-cultural theories, it is 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 sometimes called "oppositional" rather than reactive. Durkheim claimed that a state of anomie was occurring in modern society, where norms and values within society were becoming confused thus people do not know what to expect from one another which leads to deviant behaviour. Robert Merton adopted Durkheim's basic Functionalist position in relation to law and crime and refined the concept of anomie as a means of attempting to understand the conformity and non-conformity to social rules at the level of individual / group behaviour. A study made in the context of reactive / oppositional sub-cultures is one in which a link to the work of Merton is made; In this respect, Merton altered the general focus of Durkheim's use of the concept of anomie, changing it from a condition whereby a state of true normlessness existed, to one in which individuals could experience anomie if they were unable to follow the dominant norms in any society. ...read more.

Middle

And The "social or collective": where they provide a means for both "coping" with and "getting back at" society (as represented by those in authority). 3. Although Cohen's work was carried-out in the 1950's in America, more recent studies have tended to demonstrate much the same sub-cultural forms of response amongst working class boys in Britain. However, the response to this is that the working classes, by definition, are the least successful members of any society. They are the class to whom conventional means to success have least meaning. In this respect, the experience of working class adults (the fact of their failure by following conventional means) leads them to socialise their children in ways that will give them the greatest possible advantage in their adult lives (the greatest possible chance of achieving desired ends) - and this means adopting illegitimate / deviant means. This form of sub-cultural response involves the presence of three main conditions: a. A stable, cohesive, working class community: In this respect, the potential criminal will be able to develop contacts within both the mainstream working class culture and the criminal sub-culture (for example, stolen goods can be easily distributed through a wider mainstream culture that doesn't ask too many questions...). b. Successful role models: In this sense, there needs to be people of standing in the community who have "done well" out of crime. The young criminal can begin to model themselves upon such people - they represent tangible evidence of the fact that crime does pay and that crime is a potential route out of poverty, deprivation, low social status and so forth. ...read more.

Conclusion

3. Smartness: The ability to "look good" (especially on a night out) is a significant component of self-identity - if you look good then you feel good. There are perhaps two further aspects to this meaning of smartness: a. It represents a way of impressing people (especially women). b. It can be used as an exaggerated form of mockery in relation to middle class cultural values. The "Teddy Boy" phenomenon in Britain in the late 1950's, for example, involved the adoption, by working class boys, of an exaggerated, deliberately distorted, code of dress that reflected middle class norms and, by so doing, mocked such norms. 4. Excitement: The idea of "having fun" is significant mainly because Miller argued that, through their working lives lower class males were effectively denied much sense of self-expression. Only through their leisure activities could life become pleasurable, hence the emphasis by lower class males on "having a good time". Whilst in conclusion all of these theories on subculture approaches towards crime and deviance provide some kinds of explanation, there are a number of reasons for not viewing them as particularly convincing: They tend to assumes that people share similar ends. They see the socialisation process as being the crucial variable in relation to conformity / deviance and the particular form that an individual's deviation takes. There is, for example, little or no sense of the deviant making a conscious choice. Or they assume that the social reality portrayed through Official Statistics on crime is a valid one in relation to criminals / non-criminals: It's by no-means a clear-cut distinction that can be made between, on the one hand, criminals and, on the other, non-criminals. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mr. Petty 1 Holly Dale A2 Sociology Crime and Deviance ...read more.

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