Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Usefulness of Subcultural Theories

783 Words4 Pages
Albert Cohen was the first sociologist to use the subcultural theories to try and explain working class crime. He largely agreed with Merton’s idea of a strain to anomie. He agreed that deviance is largely a lower class problem. Like Merton, he thought that crime in the lower classes came from the fact that people cannot get success by legitimate means. This is due to the working class having a lack of access to things such as Education. This means that they cannot achieve the mainstream goals set by the middle classes. This can lead to things such as status frustration, and rebellion against traditional middle class values. This theory is useful because it offers an explanation of crime that is not fuelled by a monetary gain, for example abuse or rape. This is known as Non-Utilitarian crime. Cohen also has support from Willis (1979), who says that deviant anti-school subcultures are the product of working class youths living up to the working class ‘shop floor’ culture that they have been socialised into. The shop floor culture is when the working class accept their position in society and even learn to enjoy their position. This shows that Cohen theory is useful in explaining subcultural crime as it offers and explanation for non utilitarian crime and it has been backed up by another sociologist’s work. Box (1981) however feels that Cohen’s theory is only plausible for a small amount of delinquents. As not all working class males aspire the middle class norms and values, many actually choose to follow the working class values. Another problem with Cohen’s Theory is that he assumes that all working class males have the ability to achieve the middle class norms and values. Which is not the case. Both of these reasons could show that perhaps Cohen’s theory is not that useful for explaining subcultural crime and deviance in society today, as he has failed to take
Open Document