Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess the Usefulness of Subcultural Theories in Explaining `Subcultural Crime and Deviance' in Society Today. (21 Marks)

764 Words Jan 21st, 2015 4 Pages
To define subculture, it’s where a number of individuals choose to be a part of a separate group that follow distinct norms and values different to those in mainstream society as stated in item A. Subcultures may contain norms and values that would be considered deviant in society and involve criminal activity.
In Stanley Cohen’s view the subcultural crime and deviance today results from the inability of lower classes to achieve mainstream success by legitimate means. Once the person fails to achieve success they may try to do so in other ways. Status frustration is a key element to Cohen's theory which states that when individuals are faced with failure they choose a delinquent subculture, as they no longer feel part of society or that
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The retreatist subculture: refers to the double failures that do not succeed in criminal or conflict subcultures these individuals usually are involved in illegal drug use.
This theory has been criticized as not everyone who lives in areas of crime end up choosing the path into an illegitimate career structure. Postmodernists would argue that this theory doesn't recognize individual perception of what is right or wrong as each individual can make their own decision whether they take part in criminal activity or not. In addition feminists would criticize this theory because research for this theory focuses solely on males; whereas in reality women have more blocked opportunities than men yet they are ignored within this theory. Furthermore Cloward and Ohlin fail to explain or even mention white-collar crime and crime carried out by middle or upper class individuals in society.
Miller saw the deviant working class subcultural values as `focal concerns'. He tried to explain the behaviour of members of street corner groups in lower class communities as being based around six main concerns: autonomy, trouble, toughness, excitement and fatalism. Miller's theory views these influences as a learned part of the lower-class subculture values. In other words his theory suggests that delinquency is in fact part of the learned cultural values rather than reaction to unattainable goals which is what most other theories seem to suggest.

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