subcultural theories

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  • SUBCULTURAL THEORIES (functionalist)
    • COHEN - status frustration & reactive delinquent subculture
      • WC youth believe in the success goals of mainsteam culture but their experiences mean they have little opportunity to attain them
      • the groups react to the strain by developing their own norms & values within a delinquent subculture
      • in the subculture they react & rebel against accepted forms of behaviour through vandalism, stealing, intimidation & violence
      • helps explain WC delinquency as a group rather than just individuals
      • miller is critical of Cohens work - argues the WC have always had their own subculture so wouldn't identify with mainstream values
      • however Cohens theory assumes young WC delinquents accept mainstream values as being desirable & develop delinquent values as a reaction to what they can't achieve
    • CLOWARD & OHLIN - 3 subcultures
      • 1) CRIMINAL - utilitarian crime, offers illegitimate means to achieving financial reward, young members navigated away from non- utilitarian crime e.g. vandalism that'll draw attention of police
      • 2) CONFLICT- occur in socially disorganised areas with high rate of population turnover. street crime, violence, gangs. both approved & illegal means of achieving mainstream goals are blocked or limited. express their frustration in violent ways
        • 3) RETREATIST- emerge amongst low class youths who are 'double failures'. response to failure is drug addiction or alcoholism, paid for by petty theft, drug dealing or prostitution
      • explains ho WC delinquency may take different forms
      • difference between 3 subcultures exaggerated, some overlap.
    • MILLER- focal concerns
      • identifies a dsitinctive WC subculture
      • subculture involves & revolves around the focal concerns of toughness, thrill seeking, resistance of authority & trouble
      • the vaules become exaggerated on the lives of young people involved 7 make them more susceptible to law breaking
      • the desire for status frustration also perpetuates criminality e.g. being the toughest in the group
      • MATZA challenges the subcultures in 2 ways
      • 1) challenges that people in subcultures are different to everyone else
      • 2) argues many people at some point will be involved in a delinquent subculture but is only a phase


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