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

Critically Examine the Subcultural Approach to Crime and Deviance.

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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. A Study of Football Hooliganism: Are Football Hooligans "Real" Fans?

    The underlying causes of hooliganism have been much debated and have divided sociologists and other academics for some time (Williams, 1996). Williams and the team at Leicester (1996) believed that in working-class or so-called 'rough' neighbourhoods: "Young males are socialised (at home, at work, in peer group gangs, etc)

  2. Sociological Theory and Methodology - Crime and Deviance.

    from reading the literature that people go about minding their own business and then - 'wham' - bad society comes along and slaps them in a stigmatised label. Forced into the role of a deviant and individual has little choice but to be deviant."

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

    Kai T. Erikson, in "Notes on the Sociology of Deviance", also highlights the way social reaction affects the deviant individual.

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

    that they were aspiring to be greater than they were, because the recent collapse and change of the East End had resulted in many people becoming poor and in some cases unemployed. So what Cohen is basically saying is that delinquency in youth culture is a major factor in youth

  1. Masculinity and Asian gangs

    racial and class hierarchies, crime becomes a major resource for doing masculinity. Alexandra (2000), ethnographic research into Asian gangs and masculinity gives us a great insight into how Bengali youths have become concerned with expressing masculinity through collective violence to construct their own version of masculinity.

  2. Crime and Deviance - Theoretical Perspectives - Subcultural Theories

    They do not accept middle class goals of academic success and attainment and create their own sense of status among peers. * A reaction to the 'middle class measuring stick' * Being part of a group such as a delinquent gang provides a sense of belonging and status.

  1. Evaluate the subcultural theories of crime

    Robert Merton outlined five ways in which members of society could respond to success goals: Where members of a society conform to success goals, and also the normative means of reaching them. They strive or success by means of accepted and legal channels. Secondly, there is the response of innovation.

  2. Evaluate the view that structuralist theories of crime place too much emphasis upon the ...

    Holly and Jessica, it bought the whole nation together in mourning of the tragic death of those innocent young girls, and this behaviour is clearly not acceptable. The first of these is 'Reaffirming the boundaries', this takes place every time a person is taken to court and prosecuted for their wrong doing.

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