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

Outline and evaluate the usefulness of subcultural approaches to the study of crime and deviance

Extracts from this document...


"Outline and evaluate the usefulness of subcultural approaches to the study of crime and deviance." When studying Crime and Deviance, Subcultural approaches can be very helpful. In this essay, I plan to discuss the different strands of subcultural theory, including Differential Association, Cultural transmission and Status Frustration. I will evaluate these theories with other theories such as Durkheim's Strain Theory and Internationalism. I will then draw a conclusion based on what I have written. Cultural transmission is the process by which a set of values that allow Crime and deviance to take place are passed on through generations. This idea was developed by Shaw & McKay (1942), and they suggest that in the most disorganised and poor areas of the city, successful criminals are providing a role model for younger generations. They argue that this younger generation is socialised into believing that criminal behaviour is normal and easily achieved. This theory can be linked to the family topic in the sense that this is the primary location where socialisation takes place. The key functionalist thinker, Robert Merton, would highly criticise the theory of subcultural transmission by using his own Strain Theory. In this, Merton suggests that people are socialised into wanting particular things, such as nice houses or cars, etc. However, the majority of people lack the means to achieve these goals. According to Merton, it is this that causes a strain in the structure of society (I.e. ...read more.


Therefore, Durkheim would argue that the Differential Association theory was incorrect in its explanation why Crime and Deviance occurs. Although Durkheim's theory does not provide an explanation for the existence of crime & deviance, so it would appear that Differential Association Theory is more useful. Cohen drew on Merton's strain theory to develop Status Frustration. Cohen was interested in the fact that not all crimes are committed for economic gain, for example, vandalism. Cohen suggested that working class boys strive to copy middle class norms and values, but lack the means to achieve success. This leads them into believing that they are failures. From this, they reject those ideologies of normal behaviour in an attempt to cover humiliation and gain status, they engage in crime and anti-social behaviour. The most obvious link that can be make from this theory is to Education, since the labelling of working class boys within the education system would increase the probability of their failing. This would add to the feeling of worthlessness & result in crime and deviance. A synoptic link can also be make to Phenomenology, in that because Cohen looks at individuals rather than the wider social structure, it is more likely that he would use phenomenological methods in his research, i.e., collect qualitative data (data which is hand-written, for example, a diary). (So what conclusion do you draw from this?) ...read more.


Interactionists would criticise this theory by saying that it is incorrect about the causes of crime and deviance, and that it operates on the basis that all criminals are people who've broken the law, which is far too simplistic. Internactionists suggest that it is far more important to look at the context of the situation that the crime was committed in, and people's reactions to the crime, to better understand and explain it. This leads to the Labelling theory. This is where people may interpret an individual's actions as deviant, and then label that person as a criminal. This label would most likely turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the labelled individual internalises and accepts the label, eventually becoming a criminal. In conclusion, Subcultural theories can be very helpful when studying crime and deviance as they provide causes and different ways of studying it. However, since there are such a variety of opinions within the theories, it is difficult to pick out one that is the most or least helpful, and so the study of crime and deviance when using subcultural theories can sometimes become confusing. An advantage of subcultural theories for some sociologists is that the majority of them study crime and deviance using phenomenological methods, collecting quantitative data. In my own opinion, I believe that the most useful subcultural theory is Differential Association. (Say why!) However, overall I believe that subcultural theories are not as useful as other theories, such as Interactionism, when studying 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-Level Sociology Theory + Methods Revision.

    Marxists criticise Phenomenology for being historical and uncritical of existing of the social world. 3. Philosophers challenge the rotation of the Inter-subjective validity. You see a colour as green and have learned to label it green. I see it as blue but call it green.

  2. Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research.

    a small focus group, the results are likely to only be valid for that particular person or focus group. Therefore, one could not necessarily make a generalization from the results as one could with the results of a quantitative research study.

  1. Evaluate the subcultural theories of crime

    channels, because their educational achievements tend to be low, and so heir jobs provide few chances for advancement, and so there is a greater pressure upon them to deviate, for crime provides greater rewards to them than traditional means. Merton uses the term ritualism to describe the third response.

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

    encourages its members to acquire status through educational success, jobs and materialism. However, due to working-class boys' lack of skills, schools and teachers deny status. In frustration, working-class boys form anti-school subcultures which turn the value system of the school upside down and award status for deviant activities.

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

    The opportunity structures are not in place for them. Socialisation with friends and family leave them unprepared for school and college, which is basically a middle class environment. They have come to terms with this by forming subcultures. As a group they look for solutions to their frustration.

  2. Free essay

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

    This decreases validity and overall the usefulness of OCS. On the other hand, sociologists WOULD agree the usefulness of the OCS in measuring and understanding crime and deviance in society seeing as OCS provide a cheap and easily available resource.

  1. The classical and positivist approaches to criminological theory

    It proposed a clear, concise code, with limited power of judicial discretion and interpretation, with proportionate punishment to deter rather than to 'may the criminal pay'. The positivist theory was much less radical in its approach, despite the difference in period within which it emerged.

  2. evaluation of methods

    I cannot avoid asking open questions, as it is necessary for me to get in depth some opinions. But this does not mean they have to write a lot. To reduce the problem of participants answering superficially is by avoiding too many people to answer the questionnaire.

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