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Outline and assess the view that

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Introduction

Outline and assess the view that "working class crime is best understood as the product of the social background of the offender". To outline and assess this view we will need to look not only at the working class as a sub-culture but also at the other sub-cultures, as a comparison. All sub-cultural theories share the same belief that people who commit crime have different values from the average law abiding citizens. However, these same people associated with crime, do not live in a world with completely different values, they just amend certain values which may justify criminal behaviour, this in turn creates these sub-cultures. Strain is a term that is used to refer to explanations of criminal behaviour that argue that crime is the result of certain groups of people being placed in a position where they are un-able, for whatever reason, to confirm to the values and beliefs of society. Many sociologists use the term and relate or combine it with "sub-culture". Despite the fact that they are not the same thing, I will lace them together so I can get a more equal conclusion from the two approaches. Sub-cultural theories have mostly derived from two different schools of sociology, the first of which is "Appreciative Sociology". ...read more.

Middle

Innovation is when the person accepts the goals of society but behaviour is included in this response. Ritualism is when the means are used, but sight of the goal is lost. For example, the bureaucrat or the police officer blindly enforcing the letter of the law without looking at the nature of justice are examples. Retreatism is when the individual rejects both goals and means. The person dependent upon drugs or alcohol is included in this form of behaviour. Rebellion is when both the socially sanctioned goals and means are rejected and different ones substituted. This is the political activist or the religious fundamentalist. Merton's theories have been criticised by a sociologist called Valier (2001) amongst others for his stress on the existence of a common goal in society. Valier argues that there are, in fact, a variety of goals that people strive to attain at any one time. Writing in the mid 1950's, Albert Cohen (1955) drew upon both Merton's ideas of strain and also ethnographic ideas of the Chicago school of sociology. Cohen was particularly interested in fact that much offending for the thrill of the act. According to Cohen, "lower class" boys strive to emulate middle-class values and, aspirations, but lacked the means to attain success. ...read more.

Conclusion

The result is a retreat into alcohol or drugs. This explanations is useful and, as Hobbs work shows, for some people there really is a criminal opportunity structure. But the approach shares some of the weaknesses of Merton's original theory, it is difficult to accept that such a neat distinction into three clear categories occurs in real life, there is no discussion whatsoever about female deviancy. In the late 1950's Walter Miller developed a rather different approach to explaining the values of crime when he suggested that deviancy was linked to the culture of lower-class males. Miller (1962) suggested that working class males have six 'focal concerns' that are likely to lead to delinquency. According to Miller, then, young lower-class males are pushed towards crime by implicit values of their subculture. Millers theory does have a few faults, such as it provides little evidence to show that these are specifically lower-class values. Indeed, as a Box (1981) pointed out, they could equally apply to males right across the class structure. In conclusion I find it hard to define if the statement in question is correct or not as there are a mixture views. This is partly due to the limited resources available to me, and if I wanted to get a more sturdy conclusion I would need to do a lot more research. ...read more.

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