Using Materiel From Item A And Elsewhere, Assess The Usefulness Of Subcultural Theories In Explaining Subcultural Crime And Deviance In Society Today. (21 Marks)

1391 words - 6 pages

A subcultural theory is a deterministic theory that sees individuals as entirely shaped by the way society is structured or organised, this means that the subcultures share norms and values that are different to those that are shared by mainstream society as those within the subculture have rejected mainstream norms and have become inverted because the mainstream values have failed them as is illustrated by item A. These subcultural theories are used and developed by different sociologists in order to explain why crime and deviance happens, functionalists see society as socialising individuals into shared norms and values that dictate how they will behave showing why those who are part of a ...view middle of the document...

He uses five categories to explain how people adapt to society depending what the individuals position is in a social structure, they are conformity (accept goals and achieve them logically), innovation (accept the goals but use illegitimate means), ritualism (give up on the goals but follow the rules), retreatism ( reject both goals and legitimate means) and rebellion (reject the means but replace them with new ones for a revolution). Merton’s strain theory therefore explains why people individually commit crime and deviance. However it can be argued that Merton ignores subculture so doesn’t show a true representation of why crime actually happens which is also stated by Cohen who also claims that Merton ignores crimes without economic motive therefore Mertons theory alone doesn’t explain subcultural crime and deviance but just offers an explanation as to why deviance happens as described in item A that functionalists who have subcultural theories see deviance as a group activity.

Cohen agrees with Merton that deviance is a largely carried out by the working class as he agrees that it stems from the fact that they cannot achieve mainstream success through legitimate means however he also criticises Merton as discussed earlier and continues to explain group deviance. Cohen explains that working class boys suffer from status frustration because they cannot achieve legitimately through institutions such as the education system so they reject the mainstream middle class goals and form subcultures with other boys in the same situation. The subculture they form have inverted values in comparison to mainstream ones and they create their own opportunity structure that allows them to win status through delinquent actions. Cohens theory can be useful to explain subcultural deviance because it offers a explanation for non monetary crimes such as vandalism as they are committed to gain status not material goods. However it can be argued that Cohens theory of status frustration regarding to subculture is in fact not that useful at explaining subcultural crime and deviance in society because it is argued that Cohen assumes that the boys start of sharing the mainstream goals when in fact they may never have shared them so never saw themselves as failures, due to the fact that Cohen ignores this is can be argued that his theory essentially does not apply as is based on assumptions.

Other sociologists offer an explanation regarding subcultural deviance but they all agree it's a group activity as shown in item A, Merton’s strain theory is also used as a basis for Colward and Ohlin as they like Cohen agree with the fact that working class youths are denied opportunities to achieve legitimately and there deviance is a response to this situation. However they have further developed subcultural theories and argues that in fact different subcultures react differently, they see that the lack of opportunity is not only the most important factor but access to...

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