Assess the Usefulness of Subcultural Theories in Explaining ‘Subcultural Crime and Deviance’ in Society Today.

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Assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in explaining ‘subcultural crime and deviance’ in society today. The term subcultural crime and deviance is another way of describing the violation of laws or social norms by various groups within society. These groups have been explored in depth by many sociologists and they have attempted to explain subcultural crime and deviance through the existence of deviant subcultures. Originally, the work of Merton surrounding strain theory claimed that when there was a strain between the goals of society and the means of obtaining the goals then people would turn to crime. However subcultural theorists developed this idea claiming that people experiencing strain seek different forms of success. More specifically Cloward and Ohlin put forward the idea of the 'illegitimate opportunity structure’, which they used to explain subcultural crime. This structure was operable outside of the mainstream structure and ultimately lead to the attainment of success and money through deviant means. For example, Cloward and Ohlin argued that organized crimes such as the drugs trade could be explained by failures in mainstream capitalism. Cloward and Ohlin argue, that the majority of criminals involved in the drugs trade were unable to succeed within capitalism and were driven to an illegitimate means of obtaining wealth. Cloward and Ohlin further argued that as people were driven into this illegitimate structure they tended to join existing deviant subcultures i.e. the drug subculture as in the case of the drugs trade. The theory does well to explain many crimes of the working class as they are unable to succeed in a society driven by middle class values, however Cloward and Ohlin’s subcultural theory fails to explain the crimes of the powerful whom already have achieved economic wealth through legitimate means. Furthermore the theory
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