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1 ­ Functionalist, Strain and
Subcultural Theories…read more

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Durkheim's functionalist theory of crime Merton's strain theory AK Cohen: Status frustration
Functionalists see society as stable system People engage in deviant behaviour when they can't Deviance results from lower class inability to achieve mainstream success goals
based on value consensus ­ shared norms, achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means. by legitimate means e.g. education.
values, beliefs + goals. His explanation combines: Criticises Merton's explanation:
Social solidarity produced ­ binds individuals Structural factors: society's unequal opportunity Ignores group deviance of delinquent subcultures.
together into harmonious unit. To achieve, two structure. Focuses on utilitarian crime e.g. theft but ignores non e.g. assault, vandalism
key mechanisms: Cultural factors: strong emphasis on success goals and with no economic motive.
Socialisation ­ shared culture into members to weaker emphasis on using legitimate means to achieve Cohen: WC boys face anomie in MC system as culturally deprived, lack skills to
ensure same norms + values, and they feel it them. achieve, leaving them at bottom of official status hierarchy.
right to act in ways that society requires. The American Dream Status frustration where turn to others in similar situation to form subculture +
Social control ­ rewards for conformity + · Deviance result of strain between goals culture reject MC values.
punishments for deviance. encourages individuals to aim for + what structure Subculture provides alternate status hierarchy, inverts mainstream values.
of society actually allows them to achieve For example: society sees vandalism as bad, they see it as good + gain status.
Crime inevitable + universal legitimately.
Durkheim ­ crime normal part of healthy societies: · `American dream' emphasises money success, Cloward & Ohlin: 3 subcultures
In every society, some inadequately socialised + expected to pursue goal by legitimate means e.g. · Agree with Merton WC youth denied legit opportunities + deviance result of
prone to deviance. money + education. this.
Modern societies highly specialised labour division, · ideology claims US society meritocratic. · Not everyone adapts to lack of legit opportunities by turning to innovation
diversity of subcultures. · reality ­ poverty/discrimination block (utilitarian crime).
Individuals + groups become increasingly different opportunities to achieve legitimate means. · Some turn to violence + drug use.
from each other, shared rules of behaviour become · strain between cultural goal + lack of legit · Reason for these differences is lack of illegitimate opportunity structure as
less clear. (Anomie) opportunities = frustration + pressure to resort to well as legitimate.
The functions of crime illegitimate means. · Different neighbourhoods provide different illegitimate opportunities to
BOUNDARY MAINTENANCE · pressure increased by US culture putting emphasis learn criminal skills + develop criminal careers.
Crime produces societal reaction, uniting on achieving success at any price than upon doing
members against wrongdoer. so by legit means. Identify 3 types of subcultures as result:
Function of punishment: reaffirm shared · winning game more important than playing rules. Criminal Subcultures
Evaluation of C&O
values and reinforce solidarity. E.g. courtroom Youths get apprenticeship in utilitarian
Deviant adaptations to strain
publicly stigmatise offenders reminds crime.
Ignore crimes of wealthy + wider
everyone right/wrong boundary. Conformity ­ individuals accept culturally approved Neighbourhoods with longstanding, stable
power structure, over predict
ADAPTATION AND CHANGE goals, strive to achieve legit. criminal culture + hierarchy of
amount of WC crime.
Durkheim ­ all change starts as deviance. Innovation ­ accept money success goal, illegit professional adult crime.
For change, individuals with new ideas means to achieve e.g. theft. E.g. those who lack. Adult criminals select + train youths with
Explain different types of WC
challenge existing norms and firstly appears as Ritualism ­ give up on goal, internalised legit means right abilities + provide them with
deviance in terms of different
deviance. If suppressed, society unable to and follow rules for own sake. opportunities on criminal career ladder.
subcultures unlike Cohen.
make necessary adaptive changes + will Retreatism ­ reject both goal + legit means, drop Conflict Subcultures
deteriorate. out of society. Areas with high population turnover that
Draw boundaries too sharply
Positive functions of deviance: Rebellion ­ replace existing goals + means with new prevent stable professional criminal
between different types. Actual
Safety valve ­ Davis argues prostitution acts ones, aim of bringing social change. network developing. Only illegit
subcultures often show
to release men sexual frustrations without opportunities are within loosely organised
Strengths of Merton's approach characteristics of more than one
threatening nuclear family. gangs.
Warning light ­ AK Cohen argues deviance · Shows how both normal + deviant Violence provides release for frustration
indicates institution malfunctioning, e.g. high behaviour can arise from same goals. at blocked opportunities + alternative
Reactive theory explains deviant
truancy rates may indicate problems with · Conformists + innovators same goal, source of status earned by winning `turf'
subcultures as forming in reaction
education system. different means of achieving. from rival gangs.
to achieve mainstream success
Criticisms of Durkheim: Official statistics patterns: Retreatist Subcultures
Claims certain amount of deviance to function · Most crime property crime as American's `Double failures' who fail in both legit +
but doesn't say how much no way of knowing. value material wealth highly. illegit opportunity structures often turn to
Wrongly assumes everyone starts
Just because crime strengthens solidarity · WC crime rates higher as least retreatist or drop out subculture based on
off sharing these same goals.
doesn't explain why exists. opportunity to obtain wealth legitimately. illegal drug use.…read more

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2 ­ Labelling Theory…read more

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For labelling theorists, no act is deviant in itself: deviance is Lemert (72) ­ by labelling certain people as deviant, society actually encourages
a social construct. them to become more so: societal reaction causes `secondary deviance'.
Becker (63) ­ social groups create deviance by creating rules Primary and Secondary deviance
+ applying them to particular people whom they label as Primary deviance = deviant acts that have not been publicly labelled.
`outsiders'. ·Many causes, often trivial and mostly go uncaught. Those who commit do not
Thus an act or person only becomes deviant when labelled see themselves as deviant.
by others as deviant.
Secondary deviance = results from societal reaction e.g. Labelling.
DIFFERENTIAL ENFORCEMENT ·Labelling one as an offender can involve stigmatising + excluding from normal
Labelling theorists argue ­ social control agencies e.g. society.
Police, courts etc tend to label certain groups as criminal. ·Others may see offender solely in terms of label, which becomes individual's
Pillavin & Briar (64) ­ found police decisions to arrest based controlling identity.
on stereotypical ideas about manner, dress, gender, class,
ethnicity, time + place. SELF FULFILING PROPHECY
Being labelled may provoke crisis for individual's self-concept + lead to SFP
where they live up to (secondary deviance).
TYPIFICATIONS Further societal reaction may reinforce individual's outsider status + lead to them
Cicourel (76) argues police use typifications of typical joining deviant subculture offers support, role models, deviant career.
delinquent. Those fitting it more likely to be stopped,
arrested and charged. Young's study of hippy marijuana users
·WC + Ethnic minority juveniles more likely to be arrested. Drug use not too important to hippie lifestyle (primary deviance). Police
Once arrested, those from broken homes more likely to be persecution of them as junkies (societal reaction) led them to retreat into closed
charged. groups, developing a deviant subculture where drug use became central activity
·MC juveniles less likely to fit typification, have parents who (self-fulfilling prophecy). Control process produced opposite.
can negotiate on behalf + less likely to be charged.
CRIME STATISTICS ­ TOPIC NOT RESOURCE! Attempt to control deviance leads to it increasing rather than decreasing ­
·WC people fit police typifications so police patrol WC resulting in greater attempts to control it, so more deviance in an escalating
areas, resulting in more WC arrests. spiral.
·Crime statistics recorded by police aren't valid pictures. Folk devils + moral panics Cohen's (72) study of mods + rockers uses concept:
·Cicourel argues cannot take crime statistics at face Media exaggeration + distortion began moral panic, growing public concern.
value/use them as resource. Moral entrepreneurs called for `crackdown'. Police responded by arresting more
·Should treat as topic and investigate processes by which youths, provoking more concern.
constructed. Demonising the mods and rockers as `folk devils' marginalised them further,
resulting in more deviance.…read more

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3 ­ Marxist Theories…read more

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Traditional Marxism Selective Enforcement Voluntarism
Sees capitalist society divided into ruling · While all classes commit crime, selective · Taylor et al take voluntaristic view (idea
capitalist class own means of production, enforcement of law. we have free will)
WC whose labour exploited for profit. · Reiman shows crimes of powerful much less · Crime is conscious choice often with
Marxism = structural theory. likely to be treated as criminal offences and political motive, e.g. to redistribute
Society structure whose capitalist prosecuted. wealth from rich to poor.
economic base determines · Carlson sample of 200 firms, all those · Criminals deliberately struggling to
superstructure, i.e. all other social broken H&S laws only 1.5% of cases change society.
institutions including state, law, criminal prosecuted.
justice system. Function to serve ruling · Much higher rate of prosecutions for crimes
class interests. of poor.
A fully social theory of deviance
Ideological functions of crime and law · Taylor et al aim to create fully social
Criminogenic Capitalism theory of deviance ­ comprehensive
theory that would help change society
Crime inevitable in capitalism as it's criminogenic (its · Crime and law perform ideological functions
for better. Theory would have two main
nature causes crime). for capitalism.
WC crime ­ capitalism based on exploitation of WC for · Some laws benefit workers, e.g. H&S.
· Traditional marxist ideas about unequal
profit. · Pearce argues also benefit capitalism, by
distribution of wealth + who has power
As result: giving `caring face' create false
to make + enforce law.
Poverty may be only way crime can survive consciousness.
· Labelling theory's ideas about meaning
Crime may be only way of obtaining consumer goods · As state enforces law selectively, crime
of deviant act of actor, societal
encouraged by capitalist advertising, resulting in appears to be largely WC, divides WC,
reactions to it + effect of deviant label
utilitarian crimes e.g. theft. encourages workers to blame WC criminals
on individual.
Alienation may cause frustration + aggression, leading to for their problems, rather than capitalism.
non-utilitarian crimes e.g. tax evasion, breaking H&S
Gordon ­ crime rational response to capitalism + found
Neo-Marxism: critical criminology
in all classes.
· Neo-Marxists: Taylor, Walton & Young argue with traditional
The state & law making marxists that:
· Capitalism based on exploitation & inequality. Key to
Marxists ­ lawmaking + enforcement as serving understanding crime.
interests of capitalist class. · State makes & enforces laws in interests of capitalism and
Chambliss argues laws to protect private property = criminalises WC.
base of capitalist economy. · Capitalism should be replaced by classless society, would reduce
Ruling class have power to prevent introduction of laws crime.
harmful to their interests. · Taylor et al criticise traditional Marx for determinism; e.g. sees
Few laws challenge unequal distribution of wealth. workers as driven to commit crime out of economic necessity.
· Reject view along with any other theories that claim crime caused
by external factors, e.g. anomie, blocked opportunities.…read more

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charlotte joel


lol to whoever rated this 3 stars. achieved an A* and was my bible. feel free to use :)

Pete Langley - Get Revising founder


Amazingly helpful! Thanks



I cant access this, please help!






This is amazing- really well summarised! Is there supposed to be more for the location and crime section?

charlotte joel


Hi Ella, Location and crime as far as I knew was being discontinued as a section and so I didn't touch upon that subject very much. :)



life saver!!

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