Examine some of the reasons for the existence of deviant subcultures. Assess the view that gender is the best predictor of crime.

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  1. Examine some of the reasons for the existence of deviant subcultures

Deviant subculture theories are to an extent developed from Merton’s strain theory, they see deviance as the product of delinquent group formed because its members feel alienated from main stream society, and form their own values in a subculture, they are largely working class phenomenon’s, an example of this would be some form of gang, such as Hispanic gangs in America.

Reasons for these formations come from subcultural theorists such as Cohen, and Cloward and Ohlin, mainly focusing on working class males. One reasons is that working class males face adversity in society from a very young age, they face alienation in school on a large scale, the middle class dominated school systems have different norms and values to what they have themselves and to what they have been taught by their families. This builds up frustration as their path to success seems much harder than that of people of a higher social status. This frustration can lead to the formation of a deviant subculture, because the values of a subculture are often the complete opposite of legitimate society. Where normal society values decency and kindness, a subculture values malice and hostility, because the deviant cannot generally achieve monetary success or academic recognition, being part of a gang and becoming part of their behavioural way of life can result in acceptance, respect, and possible advancement in criminal career.

Cohen maintains that deviant subcultures form because of the status frustration and alienation working class males experience, but Cloward and Ohlin challenge his views saying that he, and strain theorist Merton fail to explain why the subcultures take different forms. They developed three different groups, criminal, where an illegitimate crime structure is present and young males can learn from criminal role models and expand their criminal career. Conflict subculture, where legitimate and illegitimate opportunities are unsuccessful, which often results in gang violence. And retreatist subculture, where a criminal role is failed, it is often associated with drug use.

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These theories, combined with the fact that working class males suffer from material deprivation, they are not given the same financial support as their working class counterparts, so therefore right from the start of their educational lives they are at a disadvantage, which eventually can lead to them become disillusioned from legitimate life, and forming a subculture. Cohen’s theory is good because it takes into account collective deviance, and non-utilitarian crime, something that Merton failed to account for. Cloward and Ohlin identify that subcultures are not only formed in attempt for material gain and there are distinctions between subcultures, although ...

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