- Why young working class people commit crime, ie. juvenile delinquency.
- Malicious youth crime.
- Subcultural theory generally assumes that youth crime is not motivated by material or financial gain in the same way as crimes committed by older people.
- 'Subculture' - a culture that exists alongside the main or dominant culture of society.
- Central goal for many members of society is the pursuit of status - value and respect them.
- Juvenile delinquency is caused by three inter related factors:
- (1) Inadeqaute socialisation by parents - working class boys are not socialised by their parents into the sorts of values and norms that are required for academic success at school.
- (2) Poor experience of schooling - working class boys under achieve and are allocated to bottom sets or streams in which they can clearly see that school does not value them.
- (3) Status frustration - working class boys internalising a strong sense of low self esteem.
- They feel very alienated and frustrated and angry at the way that schools, teachers and society treat them.
The subcultural response to status frustration:
- React to this by developing gangs or subcultures which:
- (1) Reverse the norms and values of the dominant culture, eg. they might deliberatley break school rules.
- (2) Celebrate aspects of working class culture by exaggerating behaviour such as toughness and masculinity.
- The reward for this is peer group status and respect.
- Gangs award status and respect to their members on the basis of anti-social, violent and anti-authoritarian behaviour ie. juvenile delinquent behaviour.
- This compensated for the failure of school and society to offer them alternative forms of legitimate status and respect.
- Cohen blames both working class culture and schools/society for juvenile delinquency.
- Society should take some of the blame too because it denies these youth any form of status, respect or sense of value.
Evaluation of Cohen:
- Little evidence that working class youth actually want the type of status that is achieved through education or jobs.
- Most working class boys actually conform at school.
- Cohen ignores working class girls.
- Cohen seems to accept without question the criminal profile painted by the official criminal statistics that working class youth are the main social problem.
Walter Miller's version of subcultural theory:
- Rooted in the values and norms of working class subculture.
- This culture has deviant characteristics which…