AQA A2 Sociology Unit 4 - Crime and Deviance - Subcultures

  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 22-04-14 19:14

Subculture One

Subcultures provide an alternative  to those denied the chances of achieveing legitimately 

Cohen - Status Frustration - Agrees with Merton - deviance is a lower class issue.


  • Focuses only on utilitarian crimes
  • Seens deviance as a individuals thing and not a group 

Cohen believes that W/C boys have cultural deprivation. This means they cannot achieve in a middle class education system. This causes Anomie in Education ( Experience SF). Furthermore this does not allow them to achieve legitimately in life.They resolve this frustration by joining Anti-school subcultures and creating deliquent subcultures

Alternative status hierarchy 

  • Deliquent subcultures twist mainstream societal values and create their own illegitimate opportunities to achieve and to create status within the peer group

Cohens theory explains non-utilitarian crimes and deliquentcy. Both start with the idea that W/C boys start off by having mainstream values of succession.

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Subculture Two

Cloward and Ohlin 

  • Believe that W/C youth are denied opportunities to achieve, but not everyone turns to utilitarian crimes, some resort to drugs or crime

They explain that some people can be blocked from both illegitimate and legitimate means

  • Criminal subcultures - Mafia - Neighbourhood created, longstanding criminal culture, hierarchy
  • Conflict subcultures - Turf Wars - Rapid population, violence occurs over territory
  • Retreatist subcultures - Drug addicts - Closed to illegitimate opportunities fail in society and gangs 

Criticism - South - Drug trade is often mafia style and violent crime = C&O say it's impossible to be more than one 

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Subculture Three

Focal Concerns - Walter Miller

  • Lower class as it's own independant subculture away from mainstream society. Doesn't value sucess, it's members are not frustrated by failure. They have goals of their own, known as focal concerns;
  • Autonomy, Trouble, Toughness, Excitement, Street Smart, Fatalism 


  • Middle class boys also have focal concerns
  • Women have been ignored
  • Not all working class boys do this

Drift theory - Matza

Many are not committed to their subculture as strain theory suggests. They drift between them. They are ascribe to main values as many do express remorse when confronted about their crimes They justify their crimes through - Techniques of Neutralisation; 

  • Denial of Responsibility, Denial of Victim, Denial of Injury, Appeal to higher loyalities, Condemnation of Condemers 
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