Assess The Usefulness Of Subcultural Theories In Explaining Subcultural Crime And Deviance In Society Today

1265 words, 6 pages

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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... View More »

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However although the theory is useful in these areas, it fails to address the existence of female subcultures like the ' laddettes ' culture. More over sociologists have criticized Cohen’s theory for assuming working class youths are able to deduce what middle class values are in order to invert them. Although Cohen’s subcultural theories are useful for explaining male crime, they blatantly ignore female subcultures leaving a large whole in the theory.

In a similar study to Cohen’s, Marxist Brake applied subcultural theories to working class criminals once again. However Brake noted an umbrella subculture comprising of many working class youths, which he called the ' gangs '. Brake claimed that Gangs comprised of individuals who operated on the margins of society and therefore were free from its hegemonic domination, for example drug users or the otherwise socially unacceptable. He claimed because these people were free from hegemony they were able to see their oppression and hence provide resistance through the creation of the gang subculture characterized by inverse values to mainstream society. These values are evident in the 'gang ' culture of contemporary society i.e. independent music, hoodies and the use of slang. The gang subculture identified by Brake then can be evidenced in society and Brake argues it is this gang subculture that commit crimes. Again although the theory does well to explain crimes of the working class, it does nothing to address crimes of the powerful. The theory also explains why not all members of the working class commit crime, as it is ...

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