Functionalist - subcultural strain theories - Cohen

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  • Functionlist -Cohen; Subcultural Theory
    • Agrees with merton that deviance is largely a lower-class phenomenon
    • Criticises Merton's explanation on two grounds;
      • Agrees with merton that deviance is largely a lower-class phenomenon
      • Merton sees deviance as an individual response to strain - ignoring the fact that most deviance is committed in groups
      • Merton focuses on utilitarian crime, largely ignoring crime such as assault and vandalism
    • Focuses on deviance among working class boys
      • Argues they face anomie in middle-class dominated school systems
      • Suffer from cultural deprivation and lack skills to achieve
      • Their inablity to succeed leaves them at the bottom of the official status hierarchy.
      • As a result boys suffer status frustration.
        • They resolve frustration by joining or forming a delinquent subculture
        • Reject mainstream middle class values
    • Alternative Status Heirachy
      • The delinquent subculture inverts the values of mainstream society
      • The subcultures function is to offer the boys and alternative status hierarchy which they can achieve
      • Boys create their own illegitimate opportunitystructure
        • gain staus from peers through delinquent actions
    • Evaluation
      • Strengths
        • offers an explanation of non-utilitarian crime
      • Weaknesses
        • Coehn assumes working class boys start off sharing middle class goals
        • ignores the possibility that they never shared those goals in the first place


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