Assess the Usefulness of Sub Cultural Theories in Crime and Deviance

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Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in understanding crime and deviance Point | Explain | Research/Evidence | Challenge/Link | Intro: Subcultural strain theories see deviance as the product of a delinquent subculture w/different values from those of mainstream society | Delinquency subcultures are seen as a way for groups (l/w) to gain status they cannot achieve legitimately | They seek to build on and criticise Merton’s theory | However, they have been criticised for over focusing on lower class members and assuming everyone has the same goals | Albert Cohen criticises Merton who sees deviance as an individual response to strain – ignoring the fact much deviance is committed in or by groups – especially among the young | Hence why Cohen focuses on deviance among working-class boys. He argues they face anomie in M/C dominated school system | Status frustration: Suffer - Cultural deprivation + lack of skills to achieve in M/C world = bottom of status hierarchy Lack of status = ‘frustration’ Resolution = rejecting M/C values & joining/forming a subculture of others in same position = alternative status hierarchy – gain status through deviant behaviour (joy riding, vandalising, fighting and substance abuse) | Strength: Cohen offers an explanation of non-utilitarian deviance amongst W/C – unlike Merton (innovation – crime w/profit motive)Cohen ‘s ideas of status frustration and alternative status hierarchy help to explain non-economic delinquency such as vandalism, fighting and truancy Weakness: like Merton, Cohen assumes that W/C boys start off sharing M/C success goals – only to reject these when they fail. He ignores the possibility – they didn’t share these goals in the first place & so never saw themselves as failures | Like Cohen, Cloward & Ohlin take Merton’s ideas as their start point. They agree that W/C youths are
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