Subcultural explanations of Crime and Deviance

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  • Created by: Maria
  • Created on: 17-06-10 16:27

Subcultural Theories –

· Cohen (1955):

o Developed Merton’s Strain Theory

o Stated that crime in lower working class boys was not due to difficulty achieving the goals of society, but rather status frustration

o The boys realised that they would never be given the opportunities to achieve the mainstream goals of richness and success, and so became frustrated over their position in society

o The boys developed and joined delinquent subcultures which reversed the mainstream values of society

o They valued non-utilitarian crimes such as joyriding, vandalism and petty violence, and achieved success within their subculture

· Miller:

o Argued that the lower working class of America had their own values which were separate from the rest of society’s. These values predisposed them to crime, and were particularly apparent in men of this class

o The men had three main focal concerns, which made them more likely to turn to crime:

§ Smartness; the ability to outsmart another

§ Toughness; courage in the face of physical threat

§ Excitement; the search for thrills

o Delinquency and crime arose from acting out the focal concerns

o These focal concerns were thought to account for the monotony of everyday life in the group

· Cloward and Ohlin:

o Also developed Strain Theory

o They argued that Merton had considered the legitimate opportunity structure of society, but had failed to consider the illegitimate opportunity structure

o The legitimate opportunity structure contained regular jobs and means of…


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