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Crime subcultural perspectives

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Crime subcultural perspectives

  1. 1. Subcultural perspectives <ul><li>By sociologytwynham.wordpress.com </li></ul>
  2. 2. Subcultural theories <ul><li>In 1955 Albert Cohen came up with status frustration </li></ul><ul><li>This is seen as a functional perspective of subcultural behaviour (it improves their status) </li></ul><ul><li>Many working class youths who cannot gain status legitimately, become frustrated and therefore try to gain status through illegitimate means </li></ul><ul><li>They create their own subculture and reject the norms and values of mainstream society </li></ul>
  3. 3. Albert Cohen <ul><li>Although they have failed in mainstream society, they can solve their problems by gaining status and respect from their peers within a delinquent subculture. </li></ul><ul><li>The crime committed within these subcultures is often non-utilitarian </li></ul><ul><li>This means the crime is undertaken for no financial gain </li></ul><ul><li>For example vandalising a building does not make money for the criminal </li></ul><ul><li>However, this type of crime will gain status among his peers  </li></ul>
  4. 4. Albert Cohen <ul><li>Cohen's theory offers a good explanation for non-utilitarian crime (this means there’s no financial gain), and why crime is committed in groups  </li></ul><ul><li>This is seen as a functional perspective of subcultural behaviour as it serves the function of improving their status and subcultures are dysfunctional and they help cement social norms </li></ul><ul><li>However, there are other explanations for working class delinquency.   </li></ul>
  5. 5. Cloward and Ohlin <ul><li>Cloward and Ohlin (1961) provide other explanations for working class delinquency </li></ul><ul><li>Cohen could not explain why delinquent subcultures take different forms - for example some are mainly concerned with theft while others focus on violence </li></ul><ul><li>Cloward and Ohlin identify 3 types of delinquent subcultures: </li></ul>
  6. 6. Cloward and Ohlin <ul><li>The first is criminal subculture - this tends to develop in areas where an illegitimate opportunity structure is present </li></ul><ul><li>There is conflict subculture - this tends to develop in areas where an illegitimate opportunity structure is absent. Delinquents form conflicting gangs out of frustration at the lack of available opportunity structures </li></ul><ul><li>Finally there is the retreatist subculture </li></ul>
  7. 7. Cloward and Ohlin <ul><li>which emerges among those who have failed to succeed either by legitimate means or by being part of a criminal or conflict subculture. They tend to retreat to drug and alcohol abuse </li></ul>
  8. 8. Cloward and Ohlin <ul><li>Cloward and Ohlin's theory is good in that it shows that working class delinquency is not just concerned with material gain. </li></ul><ul><li>The theory also identifies and explains a number of different subcultures. </li></ul><ul><li>However, Cloward and Ohlin fail to realise that the different subcultures can overlap. For example gangs involved in conflict subculture often deal in drugs, and make large sums of money in the process. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Pulling together <ul><li>These two subcultural theories can be seen as functionalist because they assume there is a consensus on social values. Members of society are socialised into measuring success purely in financial terms (you could also say subcultures are dysfunctional and they help cement social norms through a moral consensus </li></ul><ul><li>They also assume deviant subcultures are created as a response to working-class males being unable to succeed through legitimate means </li></ul><ul><li>Walter Miller had a different view.... </li></ul>
  10. 10. Walter Miller <ul><li>Miller (1958) argued that the lower classes create their different value system as a response to the monotony of working-class jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Working-class subculture is a mechanism full of processes which allow working-class people to cope with their situation which he termed - focal concerns </li></ul><ul><li>These focal concerns are: fate, excitement, autonomy, smartness, trouble and toughness </li></ul>
  11. 11. Walter Miller <ul><li>For example, one of the focal concerns is autonomy. </li></ul><ul><li>The lower classes believe in freedom and independence, and do not like being told what to do. This may bring them into conflict with authority figures, such as police </li></ul><ul><li>Miller’s ideas assume all lower class males are seen to act out this subculture with little reference to mainstream society </li></ul><ul><li>Yet not all working class boys want to fail in education. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Pulling together <ul><li>So far subcultural theories have seen crime and deviance as being the result of social forces </li></ul><ul><li>These social forces are seen as ‘beyond an individual’s control’ </li></ul><ul><li>With Merton’s strain theory those stratified at the bottom of society are under pressure to resort to crime </li></ul><ul><li>While Cohen looks to the creation of delinquent subcultures </li></ul><ul><li>And Miller explained his ideas through ‘focal concerns’ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Matza’s delinquency and drift <ul><li>Matza saw three problems with blaming social structures </li></ul><ul><li>It makes deviance seem as if they’re a different species than everyone else and so markedly different which isn’t possible </li></ul><ul><li>They seek to predict delinquency in certain social groups, yet not all working-class people are delinquent </li></ul><ul><li>It ignores free-will, as if social forces determine behaviour </li></ul>
  14. 14. Matza’s delinquency and drift <ul><li>Matza (1964) was at pains to point out that Cohen was wrong in assuming delinquents have a distinct subculture </li></ul><ul><li>Instead Matza said delinquent behaviour is often driven by ‘subterranean values’ which are evident throughout society </li></ul><ul><li>These underground values focus on excitement and toughness which mainstream society release through sports etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore delinquent behaviour is mainstream behaviour </li></ul>
  15. 15. Matza’s delinquency and drift <ul><li>Matza then asked how do you people view their delinquent behaviour? </li></ul><ul><li>According to Matza, many young people express guilt and shame for their delinquent actions, and they hold at least some mainstream values </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, they still commit crime, but why? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Matza said it’s because they adopt ‘techniques of neutralisation’. This simply means they justify their delinquent acts <ul><li>Denial of responsibility – “not my fault got in with the wrong crowd” </li></ul><ul><li>Denial of injury – Nobody was hurt, “we only stole a car for fun” </li></ul><ul><li>Denial of victim – The victim was a criminal so “they deserved it” </li></ul><ul><li>Condemnation of the condemners – “the police are just as bad” </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to higher loyalties – criminal behaviour is justified “as a means to an end” such as political action </li></ul>
  17. 17. Matza’s delinquency and drift <ul><li>Therefore ‘techniques of neutralisation’ suggest mainstream values are followed because they justify their actions through mainstream values. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore there is little evidence to suggest there is a distinctive subculture of delinquency </li></ul><ul><li>Instead Matza talks of ‘delinquency and drift’ where young people drift in and out of crime. </li></ul><ul><li>This fits in with crime stats which show young men are more likely to be criminal </li></ul>
  18. 18. Matza <ul><li>Matza ignores Hispanic gangs which are actively criminal and permanent </li></ul><ul><li>When you examine UK crime data, yes young men under 30 commit, BUT as many as 1 in 3 young men are delinquent which tends to imply more of a subcultural drive than an opportunist or transient one </li></ul>

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