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POST MARXIST APPROACHES: MAKING SENSE OF THE STRUCTURE
MARXIST SUB CULTURAL THEORY moved beyond traditional Marxist thinking by attempting to
understand the activities of working class youth, both criminal and non-criminal by interpreting their
actions as responses to the oppression of capitalism. It shares the belief that crime and deviance still
emanate from the inequalities of capitalism and that only by eliminating capitalism can crime be
The Marxist subcultural approach to crime and deviance spread far wider than an examination of the
law. It also extended into an analysis of the more extreme, perhaps deviant, working class youth
Criticisms of Functionalism by Marxism
First the actual contents of the youth culture (for instance the style of clothes adopted and the
patterns of behaviour) are unimportant and need no for further analysis. Second, difference in the
backgrounds of young people and between the various youth sub cultures are unimportant too.
Marxists stress the importance of the contents of youth culture and the difference in class
backgrounds the Marxist subcultural approach is generally associated with Birmingham University's
School of Contemporary Cultural Studies.
For all Marxism, capitalist society is characterised by class conflict which arises from the ruling class's
determination to retain control over the rest of society and the resistance of the working class. One
of the major means by which the ruling class control people is to manipulate the cultural values of
society to their benefit. for example by claiming the `right' to have private medical treatment and
the `right `to pass on wealth from one generation to another. This is achieved through control of the
mass media and of the values taught in schools. In Marxist terminology the imposition of the ruling
class's values on the rest of society is known as hemogy.
Most people in British society are so trapped by mortgages, credit repayments and general family
commitments that they are extremely nervous of serious resistance to the status quo. The relative
security of the contempory capitalist system is see to better than the alternatives. In this way the
ruling class has successfully imposed its hegomy.
The least "locked in" group in British society is youth, young people are relatively free of long term
financial commitments, have less allegiance to the family are increasing likely to be unemployed .
They are therefore the weakest point in the structure of hegemony.
Resistance through style
As we have noted, functionalist argue that each generation faces the same problem of the transition
from childhood to work. Marxists see the situation very differently each generation of working class
youth faces similar problems of entry into routine low paid employment or no employment at all
but they do so in different circumstances. For example the youth of the 1950's grew up in the
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Second World War, within very different cultural and economic circumstances of the
youth of the 1980's.
Mike Brake (1980) and Dick /Hebdidige (1979)
Mike Brake (1980) and Dick /Hebdidige (1979) argue that different generations of working class
youth develop their youth culture as a means of coping with their problems and the styles hey
develop reflect the particular cultural and economic circumstances of their generation.…read more
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Decline of the extended family. Partly as result of the other two factors the working class
extended family also declined. This had consisted of a network of family members who
provided each other with mutual support. Youth in the1960' had therefore grown up
without the traditional East end community to support them.
The wider context During the 1960 the benefits of greater affluence percolated through to the
large sections of the populations.…read more
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Marxist subculturalists notably by
McRobbie 1978 and Griffin 1985.
Stanley Cohen 1980 criticised this whole school of thought on the grounds that its followers believe
that they have a special insight into decoding the meaning of the styles adopted by the working class
Marxist subcultural approach has also been criticised because it implies that het sociologist always
knows best.…read more