Topic 1 - Functionalist, strain and subcultural theories

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Durkheim:
Crime is inevitable and universal because not everyone is adequately socialised into shard norms -
different cultures may develop subcultures with own set of norms and values
Diversity in modern society means that the collective conscience is weakened which results in higher
levels of crime and deviance
The positive functions of crime - Durkheim:
1. Boundary maintenance: purpose of punishment is to reaffirm society's share values and reinforce social
solidarity - court proceedings publicly stigmatises offenders and reaffirms values of law abiding
2. Adaptation and change: Acts which at first challenge mainstream values may be seen as deviant, but in
long term may give rise to a new culture - If those ideas are suppressed, society will stagnate and be
unable to make necessary adaptive changes)
CRITICISED FOR IGNORING HOW CRIME MIGHT HOW IS CRIME FUNCTIONAL FOR
THE VICTIMS?
Merton's strain theory:
People engage in deviate behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by
legitimate means
American dream creates a desire to succeed but lack of opportunity creates a pressure to adopt
illegitimate means
There are 5 adaptations to strain:
Conformity: People accept the culturally approved goals and try to achieve them legitimately
Innovation: Accept goals but use illegitimate means (theft etc.)
Ritualism: Give up trying to achieve goals but follow rules for their own sake
Retreatist: Reject goals and legitimate means of achieving them - become dropouts
Rebellion: Reject society's goals and replace them with new ones in a desire to bring about
revolutionary change to society (e.g. political radicals)
STRENGTH: SHOWS HOW NORMAL AND DEVIANT BEHAVIOUR CAN ARISE FROM THE SAME MAINSTREAM
GOALS
CRITICISED FOR ASSUMING THERE IS A VALUE CONSENSUS AND THAT EVERYONE STRIVES FOR MONEY
SUCCESS
A.K. Cohen - Subcultural strain theory:
W/C boys suffer from cultural deprivation and lack of skills to achieve
Because they are unable to achieve status by legitimate means, boys suffer from status frustration -
they resolve this by rejecting mainstream values and turn to boys in same situation to form a delinquent
subculture
Delinquent subcultures offer an alternative status hierarchy and create an illegitimate opportunity
structure
CRITICISED FOR ASSUMING THAT W/C BOYS START OFF ACCEPTING M/C GOALS AND ONLY REJECT THESE
WHEN THEY FAIL
Cloward and Ohlin - Subcultural strain theory:
W/C youth deviance stems from being denied legitimate opportunities to achieve money success
There are three subcultural responses that result from this:
Criminal subcultures: Provide youths with an apprenticeship career in utilitarian crime
Conflict subcultures: Loosely organised groups that provide an outlet for frustration through violence
and an alternative source of status
Retreatist subcultures: Those who join these have failed in both illegitimate and legitimate
opportunity structures. Many turn to illegal drug use
CRITICISED FOR FAILING TO ACCOMODATE MIDDLE CLASS CRIME

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