Sub-cultural theories


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RC = ruling class

WWC = white collar crime

CJS = criminal justice system

EMs = ethnic minorities

TNC's = transnational corporation

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  • Created by: Chantelle
  • Created on: 19-08-11 15:59
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Sub-cultural Theories
Define, Decode, Signpost
Criminal behaviour is an act which breaks a formal law, such as murder, whereas deviant behaviour is
that which breaks a norm. Definitions of crime and deviance are socially constructed their definitions
are culturally determined. Patterns of crime are not random, the highest rates are found among the
poor and in areas of social disorganisation (anomie). This is found in the zones of transition (inner city
deprived areas), which is characterised by high unemployment, family instability and poor housing.
When debating (DECODE). It is also important to consider the concept of social control which makes
attempts for society to make its members conform. This is weak which is linked to higher rate of
subcultures. Non-achievers are more likely to develop anti-societal subcultures which are normally a
search for status. In this essay I will discuss (DECODE).
Cohen: status frustration
o Influenced by Merton's idea of strain, claims that disadvantaged groups are unable to gain a
legitimate status, this leads to status deprivation and frustration
o This can lead to formation of criminal subcultures as a collective means of compensating for
their lack of status
Cloward and Ohlin
o The focus on WC C&D they are influenced by Merton's idea when access to legitimate means
are blocked.
o They identify an illegitimate opportunity structure. Access to this criminal career structure is
not equal and as a result there are a variety of subculture responses including:
o Criminal subculture ­ certain areas with a longstanding criminal culture some people
will have gained a high period of crime. These act as role models to young criminals
who may start a criminal career.
o Conflict subculture ­ for those who fail in or don't have access to a criminal subculture
such sub-cultures involve gang violence and the aggressive protection of turf
o Retreatist subculture for those who fail in or do not have access to the above it
involves retreating into drugs and alcohol and paying for it by petty theft and
Shaw and Mackay: social disorganisation
o Focused on WC crime in the ZOT, due to social disorganisation and high population turnover
the mechanism of social control are weak making criminal subculture more likely.
Miller: crime as a normal WC value
o He claims that it is normal lower WC culture which promotes criminal behaviour. This culture
contains focal concerns which lead WC males into crime. These focal concerns include:
o Trouble ­ they accept there will be trouble
o Toughness ­ males ought to be tough
o Sharpness
o Excitement ­ looking out for fun and games
o Authority ­ like to be in charge
British: sub-cultural theories
o Carried out in the east end of London. To test the theory that status frustration lead to crime

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They found little evidence of this, instead they claimed masculinity and the search for
excitement were the reason for criminal subcultures
o Establishes the city as a focal point for research into crime
o The concept of social disorganisation is statistically linked to crime
o There is evidence that status deprivation leads to crime
o Identifies a range of reference
o Ignores WCC, girl gangs and rural crime ­ not representative
o Accepts OS are accurate and true
o Strain theory suggests a general…read more


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