Sociology Subcultural Strain Theories of Crime & Deviance 4 (Matza Delinquency and 'Drift')

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  • Subcultural Strain Theories of Crime & Deviance 4 (Matza)
    • Matza (1964): Delinquency and 'Drift'
      • David Matza (1964) suggested that delinquency is not a way of life, but rather something people 'drift' in and out of
        • He objected Cohen's suggestions that individuals' inability to achieve status within mainstream culture would result in delinquent subculture and claimed that other strain theorists are 'over predicting' delinquency
        • In particular Matza argued that this 'drift' occurred more within groups who lacked the most control, which results in what he called 'mood of fatalism'
          • We then engage in delinquent behaviour to restore a sense of control and identity known as the 'mood of humanism.'
            • However, when people drift back to their conventional values they tend to adopt 'techniques of neutralisation' to justify their actions, including:
              • Denial of responsibility
                • "It wasn't my fault
              • Denial of injury
                • "It wasn't a big deal"
              • Denial of victim
                • "They had it coming"
              • Condemnation of condemners
                • "You were just as bad in your day"
              • Appeal to higher loyalties
                • "My friend needed me what was I going to do?"
      • Mazta argued that there is no distinct set of anti-social values or a distinct group of delinquents. Instead, all people hold two levels of values:
        • Respectable and conventional values (e:g good parent)
        • Underground or subterranean values (e:g greed)
    • Mazta Evaluation
      • Weaknesses
        • Matza's economic theory ignores group delinquency that exists within a wider structural, social and economic framework
        • Some critics are sceptical of the alleged remorse shown by delinquents which Matzo took as an expression of appreciation of mainstream values
          • For example, Box (1981) suggests that any remorse shown by criminals may not be sincere at all
      • Strengths
        • Explains why young men are more likely to be criminals than older men as delinquency declines as they get older


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