Q1 – Crime / Subcultures
Subcultural theories build upon the work of Merton. They say that deviance is the result of individuals conforming to the values and norms of a social group to which they belong, if you belong to a social group whose norms differ from those of the main society then you will become a deviant.
MERTON – STRAIN THEORY / AMERICAN DREAM / CANT GET TO WHERE THEY WANT TO
Cohen said lower-working-class boys want to achieve the success which is valued by mainstream culture. But due to educational failure and the dead-end jobs that result from this they have little chance of achieving these goals. This results in status frustration, the boys are at the bottom of the social structure and have little chance of gaining a higher status in society. This is similar to Merton’s theory, however Cohen said that instead of turning to crime as Merton said, they reject the norms and values of mainstream society and instead turn to the norms and values of a delinquent subculture. In this subculture the boys can achieve success because the social group has different norms and values from the rest of society. So in this culture a high value is placed upon criminal acts such as stealing and vandalism which are condemned by mainstream society.
In these subcultures the individual who lacked respect in mainstream society can gain it by committing crimes such as vandalism and truancy. Because the crimes reward the individual with respect there is not always the need for a monetary value to commit a crime, so the subcultural perspective explains why people commit non-utilitarian crimes.
Cloward and Ohlin developed Cohen’s theory. They said that there are three different types of subcultures that young people might enter into; criminal subcultures, conflict subcultures and retreatist subcultures.
Criminal subcultures tend to emerge in areas where there is a lot of organised adult crime, here there are criminal role models for young people, and they learn how to...