Assess the Usefulness of Subcultural Theories in the Study of Crime and Deviance

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A culture is the way of life of a particular society where everyone follows the same norms and values. However, there are some people who step out of these norms and values and become ‘deviant’ in society- these are referred to as subcultures. Subcultural theorists, as Item A states, ‘see crime and deviance as a group activity’, and so try and explain deviance and crime in terms of a subculture of a certain group. However, some say that explaining subcultural crime ad deviance in society today is not useful as it doesn’t consider individuals motives. Cohen, as Item A also states, was interested in ‘what causes members to be attracted to rule breaking.’ He argued that lower working class boys want success and a status, but yet cannot achieve this due to cultural and relative deprivation which ultimately causes educational failure and dead end jobs. Cohen argued that these boys therefore suffer from status frustration and delinquency leads them to illegitimate means in a subculture where they have a high status and can partake in activities such as drugs, stealing and truancy. Cohen said that these goals set by the subculture are in opposition of society, but, they are gaining the status they could not achieve legitimately. Box however criticised Cohen, therefore saying that this subcultural theory is not useful in explaining crime and deviance in society today. He said that Cohen was wrong to assume that these working class delinquent boys had rejected mainstream values, yet the shame, anger and resentment that their teachers made them feel were the reason for their failure and what made them respond with
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