Functionalists views on deviant subcultures

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  • Created by: doraga
  • Created on: 05-02-16 14:36


An act that breaks the law - crime

Not following the norms and values of a society - deviance

Functionalists believe that young people participate in deviant subcultures because of the Status Frustration (Cohen). 

Cohen looked at how delinquents (young criminals) are motivated by the lack of status (status deprivation).
Delinquents have often been poor educated and having low-esteem and poor job expecations. Thus, they are not able to succeed in the society and by being humiliated, is a reason why youths join deviant subcultures in which they have a chance to succeed and gain status; this is also shown by their non-utilitarian crimes as there is no financial gain included, just a gain of status. 

  • However, not all those who suffer from status deprivation turn to delinquent acts to deal with their status frustration
  • And most of the working class boys conform to school, despite educational failure. 
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Cloward and Ohlin used the term 'Illegitimate opportunity structure' to explain that young people have easier access to illegitimate behaviour and it aso depended on the areas they lived and what each one of them provided. The fact that nothing socially accepted is available for them, it makes it easier to choose a deviant behaviour as they are not asked to have skills on that. 

They suggest that there are three levels: 

  • First- Criminal Subculture (in which they are criminal successful models)
  • Second- Conflict Subculture (in which they are in violent gangs- no criminal behaviour) 
  • and third- Retreatist Subculture (in which they are involved with drugs, alcohol, theft, prostitution) 

Thus, the development of deviant subcultures will be encouraged as there are many diferent options a delinquent can choose to do. 

  • However, they show that working class delinquency is not simple concerned with material gain.
  • And they only focus on males, ignoring the female delinquents. 
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Miller: Lower class subculture

He argues that working class male possess a distinct subculture that was part of the working class way of life. This subculture stems from boredom and insecurity of working class jobs which pushes working class youth into crime and deviance. 

According to Miller, their focal concerns are: smartness, excitement, toughness, autonomy, fate and trouble.

Lower class delinquency results from men acting out the lower class subculture; this often breaks the law. 

  • However, he assumes that people's goals are always based on material and financila success when people can have a variety of goals in life. 
  • Also, he focuses on malestream (sociology written by men about men) and it completely ignores women.
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