Ethnicity & Deviant Subcultures

  • Created by: nelliott
  • Created on: 22-04-21 12:25

Criminal/Delinquent Subcultures

  • The Centre for Social Justice's report in 2009 challenges the idea that gangs are associated with ethnic minorities 
  • Instead, gang members tend to reflect the ethnicity of the local population
  • e.g. gangs in Scotland are mostly white and gangs in London are mostly black
  • It could be said that the high presence of black communities in the UK reflects the high presence of black communities in deprived neighbourhoods, where gangs are more likely to form
  • Could gangs be down to social class more than ethnicity?
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Criminal/Delinquent Subcultures Studies

  • Nightingale studied young black males in Philadelphia 
  • ARgued that they consumed mainstream US culture through media, sharing values e.g. money
  • However, they were excluded (racially & economically) from achieving these goals, so turned to crime 
  • Bourgois studied Latino drug dealers in New York and found that the 'anguish of growing up poor in the richest city in the world created an inner-city street culture where deviant practises become the norm
  • Drug dealing was a way to survive and achieve respect
  • Bourgois understood why they would not work a minimum wage job when they could drug deal in a million-dollar industry on their doorstep
  • These two studies show a 'paradox of inclusion'
  • They desire to be included by being successful, but this is difficult
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Alexander: Deviant subcultures?

  • Alexander studied a group of Bengali youths (age 14-16) in inner-city London
  • This was in the wake of a moral panic about 'the Asian gang'
  • She found that they fought amongst themselves and against other ethnic groups
  • Membership within these groups were constantly shifting so the 'gang' was often fragile
  • She argued that the myth of the 'Asian gang' was created through the media but fuelled by general Islamaphobia
  • These stereotypes were picked up by teachers, who projected the gang label onto groups who shared a common identity
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Mac an Ghaill: Young, Gifted and Black

  • Studied black youths in inner-city schools
  • Suggested social class and gender intesect with racism and racial stereotypes
  • Found young African-caribbean males developed subcultures based on masculine images as a response to percieved teacher labelling and racism
  • He identified three subcultures:

1. Rasta Heads - open confrontation

2. Warriors - Asian males who were anti-school but went unnoticed

3. Black sisters - Asian and African Caribbean who were pro-education

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Anti-school Subcultures: Sewell

  • A successul black male would be target for bullying, wheras educational failiure becomes a badge
  • Four visible groups were identified:

1. Conformists (pro-school)

2. Innovators (pro-education, but anti-school, seeking other ways to achieve)

3. Retreatists (dropping out)

4. Rebels (formed subcultures, often based on rap)

  • The majority were conformists but the rebels (18%) got the attention
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Anti-school Subcultures: Mirza

  • African Caribbean girls are more pro-education
  • They adopted strategies to be successful, such as keeping their head down
  • They would avoid subjects in which they felt the teacher was racist and support each other academically
  • This was seen as a rational response
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Anti-school Subcultures: Strand & Wilson

  • Found negative peer relationships to be significant in underachievement for African Caribbean boys
  • White boys underachieving related to low self esteem
  • Asian boys had no positive peer support
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Anti-school Subcultures: Archer

  • Muslim boys saw themselves as Muslim, not Pakistani 
  • Being a member of their subculture gave them protection from racist bullying
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Ethnic Minority Subcultures in the UK

  • Rastafarians are associated with Jamacian/Caribbean culture, reggae, dreadlocks and clotthes in red, gold and green 
  • These colours come from the flag of Ethiopia, as they have religious beliefs associated with African roots
  • Hebidge saw this culture as froms of resistance to white culture and racism with roots in slavery
  • Johal suggests some Brasians adopted a 'hyper ethnic' style, exaggerating their parents culture and giving them 'empowerment through difference'
  • Issues such as marriage and diet meant some Brasians became selective about what they want to follow, known as 'code switching'
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Ethnocentric Sociologists

  • Functionalists, feminists and the CCCS can be criticised as they don't consider the impact of race and ethnicity on youth subcultures
  • Hebdige says there are clear relationships between black music, dance etc. but these are not explored further
  • These sociologists are accused of being 'ethnocentric'
  • Studies in the US have been less 'white focused' and consdered hip hop and 'gangsta rap' as subcultures
  • However, these studies have only been carried out by black sociologists
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Resistance or Hybridity?

  • Rastafarian can be seen as resistance, but Brasians show more hybridity, blending Asian culture with British culture
  • However, hanging on to some of their traditional culture can be seen as resistance, as they are resisting to assimilate (intergrate) into white British culture
  • Mercer discusses the styling of hair and its symbolic meaning (e.g. afro, dreadlocks)
  • Mercer says all forms of hairstyles can be forms of hybridity
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Examples of Hybrid Subcultures

  • 'White wannabes' identified by Nayak as young white working-classmales who adopt the style and language of black culture 
  • 'Modern primatives' ( found in the US and parts of Western Europe) and are described as a 'neo-tribe' rather than a subculture
  • They focus on individuality and have body modifications (e.g. tattoos, piercings) as a way of expression
  • Vale and Juno argue that this is a reaction to the powerlessness created by a fast-changing world, as it gives them a regained sense of power
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Hybridity: Cultural Exchange & Appropriation

  • Can be seen as a positive (cultural exchange) or negative (cultural appropriation)
  • e.g. the use of tattoos in modern primative's subculture (tribal artwork, Chinese letters)
  • Hutnyk argues that Western subcultures may take away the meaning from symbols and use them superficially
  • e.g. aspects of British culture have been imposed on other cultures, wheras aspects of other subcultures have been taken and used by British subcultures
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