Subcultural strain theories

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  • Subcultural Strain Theories
    • Both Criticise but build on merton's theory.
    • A.K. Cohen - Status Frustration
      • Agrees that much deviance results from the lower classes' inability to achieve mainstream success goals by legitimate means.
      • Criticism of Merton - Merton sees deviance as an indivdual response, ignoring the group deviance of delinquent subcultures.
      • Criticism of Merton - He focuses on utilitarian crime fro material gain and ignores non -utilitarian crimes, which may have no economic move.
      • WC boys face anomie in the MC education system.
      • They are culturally deprived and lack the skills to achieve - leaving them at the bottom of the official status hierarchy.
      • They suffer status frustration. Reject mainstream MC values and turn instead to others in the same situation and form a subculture.
      • Alternative status hierarchy - subculture offers them an illegitimate opportunity structure for boys who have failed to achieve legitimately.
      • Provides an alternative status hierrach where they can win status through delinquent actions.
      • Its values are spite, malice, hostility and contempt for those who are outside it.
    • Cloward and Ohlin: 3 subcultures
      • 1. Criminal Subcultures - provide youths with an apprenticeship in utilitarian crime.
        • Adult criminals can select and train those youths with the right abilities and provide them with opportunities on the criminal career ladder.
      • 2. Conflict Subcultures - arise in areas of high population turnover that prevent a stable professional criminal network developing.
        • Violence provides a release for frustration at blocked opportunities and an alternative source of status earned by winning 'turf' from rival gangs.
      • 3. Retreatist Subcultures - 'double failures' who fil in both legitimate and illegitimate opportunity structures, often turn to a drop-out subculture based on illegal drug use.
      • Unequal access to illegitimate opportunity strcutures - not everyone who fails at school can become a successful safecracker.
        • Ignores crimes of the wealthy and the wider power structure, and over-predict the amount of WC crime. - TOO DETERMINISTIC.
        • Try to explain different types of WC deviance ion terms of different subcultures unlike Cohen.
        • Draw the boundaries too sharply between the different types - subcultures show characrteristics of often 'one type'


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