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Merton's strain Alternative status hierarchy
Subculture's values are characterised by malice, spite and
hostility for those outside it ­ delinquent subculture inverts
Evaluation of Cloward and Ohlin
Agree with Merton and Cohen that most crime is working-
class therefore ignoring the crimes of the wealthy. Also
theory (cont) values of mainstream society. What society condemns, the
subculture praises. For example, mainstream culture
upholds regular school attendance whereas in the
their theory is too deterministic and over-predicts the
extent of working class crime.
Whilst they agree with Cohen that delinquent subcultures
subculture, the boys gain status from truanting. are the source of much deviance they provide an
Evaluation of Merton
The function of the subculture is to offer an alternative explanation for different types of working-class deviance in
Shows how both normal and deviant behaviour can arise
status hierarchy where they can achieve. Having failed in terms of subcultures.
from the same mainstream goals ­ conformists and
the legitimate structure they create their own illegitimate Drew boundaries too sharply between different types.
innovators are both pursuing money and wealth just one is
structure where they can win status through delinquent South found that the drug trade is a mixture of disorganised
legitimate and the other illegitimate.
actions. (conflict) crime and professional (criminal) crime. Also,
Explains these trends: most crime is property crime
A strength of this is that it offers an explanation of non- some retreatist users are professional deals which means
(American's value material wealth) and lower-class crime
utilitarian deviance among the working class. The ideas of they make a living.
rates are higher because they have least opportunity to gain
status frustration and alternative status hierarchy help Called reactive theories ­ start off assuming that all people
wealth legitimately.
explain non-economic delinquency such as fighting and start with the same shared goals which isn't always the
It does take crime statistics on face value ­ over represents
truancy. However, Cohen assumes that working-class boys case. Miller argues that the lower class has its own
working class crime (seen mostly as a working class
start off sharing middle-class success goals only to reject independent subculture that is separate from mainstream
phenomenon) and is also deterministic ­ not all of the
them when they fail ­ possible they never had these goals. culture which doesn't value success in the first place.
working class deviate.
According to Marxists, it ignores power of ruling classes who
make and enforce laws to benefit the rich and criminalise Cloward and Ohlin Recent strain theories
the poor. Agree that working-class youths are denied legitimate Argued that many young people might have pursued a
Assumer there is value consensus and that everyone wants opportunities to achieve `money success' and that deviance variety of goals other than wealth. These include popularity
wealth ­ this might not be the case. stems from the way they respond. with peers, autonomy from adults or the desire of some
Only accounts for utilitarian crime and not crimes of They note that not everyone in this situation adapts to this males to be treated like `young men'. They argue that
vandalism. Also hard to see how it could account for state by turning to innovation (such as theft). Different failure to achieve the goals might result in delinquency and
crimes like genocide. subcultures respond in different ways to the lack of that middle-class juveniles may also have problems
opportunity. Whilst the subculture that Cohen looked at achieving such goals.
Subcultural strain resorted to violence and vandalism, some centre on illegal
drug use.
Cloward and Ohlin attempt to explain why these responses Institutional anomie theory
occur. They say that there is also unequal access to Messner and Rosenfeld came up with the theory of
illegitimate opportunity structures. For example, not institutional anomie which argues that the `winner takes it
everyone who fails by legitimate means (such as at school) all' mentality of America exerts pressure towards people
Cohen: status frustration then has an equal opportunity to become a fraudster. They committing crime by encouraging anomic culture where
Deviance arises from an inability of the lower classes to need the opportunity to learn how to be successful. people are encouraged to adopt an `anything goes'
achieve mainstream goals by legitimate means such as They identify three types of deviant subculture: mentality.
educational achievement. He does however, criticise Merton 1) Criminal subcultures provide youths with an In America, economic goals are valued above all others and
in 2 areas: Deviance = individual response to strain and apprenticeship for a career in utilitarian crime and arise this undermines other institutions. For example, schools
ignores the fact that much crime is committed by groups and only in areas where there is a stable local criminal become more geared to preparing young people for the
the young & focuses on utilitarian crime and ignores things culture and established hierarchy of adult criminals. labour market at the expense of values such as respect for
like vandalism which may have no economic motive. 2) Conflict subcultures arise in areas of high population other people and this makes it hard for schools to exert
Focus on working-class boys in the middle-class dominated which results in social disorganisation and prevents a social control.
school system. They suffer cultural deprivation and lack skills stable professional criminal network developing. In Downes and Hansen offer evidence for this view ­ found
needed to do well. Their inability to succeed leaves them at these, violence provides a release for frustrations at that societies that spent more on welfare had lower rates of
the bottom of the hierarchy. This means they suffer status their blocked opportunities as well as status. imprisonment which backs up the idea that societies that
frustration and resolve this by rejecting mainstream middle- 3) Retreatist subcultures are in every neighbourhood ­ protect the poor from the worst excesses of the free market
class values, turning to other people in the same situation made up of those who fail in criminal and conflict have less crime.
and creating a delinquent subculture. subcultures and focus on illegal drug use.…read more


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