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Subcultural Theories ▪ Several Theories emerged from late 1950s through the 1960s ▪ Attempt to explain the formation and activity of delinquent subcultures.

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Presentation on theme: "Subcultural Theories ▪ Several Theories emerged from late 1950s through the 1960s ▪ Attempt to explain the formation and activity of delinquent subcultures."— Presentation transcript:

1 Subcultural Theories ▪ Several Theories emerged from late 1950s through the 1960s ▪ Attempt to explain the formation and activity of delinquent subcultures ▪ Subculture defined as a group (such as a street gang) that holds different norms and values than mainstream society  Combined ideas from both strain theory (Merton) and differential association –> “mixed models”

2 Specific Subcultural Theories 1. Status frustration (Cohen) 2. Differential opportunity theory (Cloward and Ohlin) 3. Focal concerns of the lower class (Miller)

3 Status Frustration (1 of 3) ▪ Albert Cohen ▪ From Merton: strain causes crime  BUT, for Cohen, not “American Dream” frustrations, but strain caused by inability to reach middle class  Can’t “buy” middle class status  From Sutherland: crime as learned  New values are passed on (learned by) new members of the subculture

4 Status Frustration (2 of 3) ▪ Turning point occurs when boys reach school age ▪ 1950s school systems entrenched in middle-class values and social networks ▪ Lower-class boys singled out by their dress, manners, and attitudes (“tracking”) ▪ Middle-class measuring rod  If cannot meet? In “market” for solution.

5 Status Frustration (3 of 3) ▪ Delinquent “reaction formation” = value the opposite of middle class: ▪ Aggression ▪ Toughness ▪ Hedonism ▪ Immediate gratification ▪ Loyalty ▪ Conformity Cohen: Most delinquency is malicious, negative and not utilitarian (not achieving American dream)

6 Differential Opportunity Theory (1 of 2) ▪ Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin ▪ From Merton: Lack of legitimate opportunities for success causes strain ▪ Blocked economic aspirations lead to poor self-image ▪ Frustration leads to delinquency  From Sutherland: much delinquency requires access to “illegitimate means” for success  Delinquents learn criminal trades within neighborhood

7 Differential Opportunity Theory (2 of 2) ▪ Delinquent subcultures ▪ Criminal subculture ▪ Where illegitimate opportunities exist, delinquents seek economic gain, view crime as a career ▪ Conflict subculture ▪ Where no illegitimate opportunities exist, gangs fight over turf and place high value on violence ▪ Retreatist subculture ▪ “Double losers”: Emphasizes drug abuse or other forms of escape

8 Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (1 of 2) ▪ Walter Miller ▪ Views entire lower class as subculture ▪ Focal concerns (values) foster delinquency. ▪ Lower-class youth respond to these values and develop a subculture of delinquency.

9 Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (2 of 2) ▪ Trouble: Violent situations, interactions with the police ▪ Toughness: Need to demonstrate that one can stand up to adversity ▪ Smartness: Street smarts ▪ Excitement: Thrill of engaging in conflict ▪ Fate: What happens in life is beyond one’s control ▪ Autonomy: Intolerance of challenges to one’s personal sphere

10 Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (3 of 3)  Social Structure  Predominance of female-based households contributes to this problem. ▪ Lower-class adolescents often go out on the streets to learn appropriate adult male behavior.  Criticisms of theory ▪ Failure to put the focal concerns in context ▪ Many middle-class youth share “focal conerns”

11 Focal Concerns  Code of the Streets ▪ Elijah Anderson ▪ Lower-class youth guided by code of the streets ▪ Informal rules that govern interpersonal behavior ▪ Heart of the code is fear of being disrespected  Grounded within structural reality (despair, lack of opportunity, etc) of inner city life  TIE BACK TO SOCIAL DISORGANIZATION

12 Policy Implications ▪ Cohen = ?  Cloward and Ohlin? ▪ Mobilization for Youth program  Provide legitimate opportunities for success to members of the lower class (Job programs, apprenticeships, etc) ▪ Organize social institutions in poor neighborhoods (political power)  Miller  Importance of prosocial male role models (Men as Peacemakers?)

13 Subcultural Theory Criticism ▪ Narrow scope ▪ Focus on lower-class boys ▪ Does not account for white-collar crime, middle-class crime, or female offending ▪ Are gangs are truly subcultures? ▪ Assumes almost perfect socialization to gang

14 Control Theories  Control = shorthand for informal social control  Theories covered  Hirschi (social bonds)  Gottfredson and Hirschi (low self-control)  Sampson and Laub (age graded social control)

15 Assumptions about “Motivation towards crime”  Strain theory: motivation from some sort of strain (e.g. blocked opportunity)  Learning theory: motivation from delinquent peers  Control theory: there is enough natural motivation towards crime  No need to “build in” extra motivation  Real question? Why aren’t we all criminal?

16 Types of Control  Direct Control  Direct punishments, rewards from parents, friends  Indirect Control  Refrain from deviance because you don’t want to risk friends, job, etc.  Internal Control  Good self-concept, self-control, conscience

17 Walter Reckless’ Containment Theory as precursor to “control” theories Pushes and Pulls poverty, anger,delinquent subculture Outer Containment parents/school supervision DELINQUENCY OUT HERE !!!!!! Inner (Good self concept) Containment

18 ENTER TRAVIS HIRSCHI  Causes of Delinquency (1969)  Was an attack on other theories as much as a statement of his theory  Self-report data (CA high schools)  Measures from “competing theories”  This book was the first of its kind!

19 Social Bond Theory  “ Bond” indicates “Indirect Control”  Direct controls (punishment, reinforcement) less important because delinquency occurs when out of parents’ reach (adolescence).  Attachment  Commitment (Elements of the social bond  Involvement are all related to each other)  Belief

20 Or, Put Another Way… The Social Bond Attachment Commitment Involvement Belief Crime Fun, thrilling, quick and easy satisfaction of desires

21 Hirschi’s Evidence in Favor of Bonds  Attachment  Attachment to parents (wish to emulate, identify with)  Commitment  Grades, educational aspirations  Belief  Techniques of Neutralizations

22 Criticisms of Hirschi’s Theory 1. Delinquents do form relationships 2. Attachment to delinquent peers or parents increases, rather than decreases delinquency 3. Which comes first, bonds or delinquency? 4. Bonds more salient for females, and early in adolescence

23 Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990)  A General Theory of Crime  Same control theory assumptions  If we are all inclined to be deviant, why conform?  Because most of us develop “self-control”  “Internal control”  Developed by age 8, as the result of “direct control” from parents

24 Nature of Crime, Nature of Low Self-Control Criminal Acts… Provide immediate gratification of desires Are risky/thrilling Are easy/simple Require little skill/planning Provide few/meager long term benefits Result in pain/discomfort to a victim People with low self-control are therefore… Impulsive Risk-taking Physical (as opposed to mental) Low verbal ability Short-sighted Insensitive

25 The implications of low self-control  Explains “stability of criminal behavior”  But, how does it explain “aging out?”  Explains all crime and analogous behaviors  Analogous = same “nature” as criminal acts

26 Empirical Support  Moderate relationship between low self-control and both crime and analogous behaviors  Holds for both males and females  BUT  Not the “sole cause” of crime  May not explain white collar crime at all

27 “Age Graded Theory of Informal Social Control”  Sampson and Laub  We will cover this again in the “lifecourse” theory section  Takes Hirschi’s (1969) theory and made it “age graded”  The specific elements of the social bond change over the life-course  Also includes elements of “direct control”  Also throws in some other stuff (integrated theory)

28 Sampson and Laub Context Parenting Supervision Discipline Social Bonds Family School Delinquent Peers ChildhoodAdolescenceAdulthood Individual Differences Delinquency Social Bonds Marriage Good Job Length of Incarceration Adult Crime

29 Policy Implications  Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory  Target attachment, commitment, belief  Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory  Must focus on early childhood prevention  Train parents?  Sampson and Laub  Different targets for different ages  Importance of adult bonds (job, marriage)

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