FUNCTIONAL SUBCULTURAL THEORIES Essay

Submitted By alice_hupp
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Assess the usefulness of functionalist and sub-culture theories in our understanding of crime and deviance today (21 marks)
Durkeim …
Social Solidarity – achieved by society having 2 main mechanisms
1) Socialisation – instils a shared culture of society’s norms & values and act in the way society requires
2) Social Control – rewards for conformity and punishments for deviance (helps people behave the way society wants you to)
Society fulfils 2 important positive functions -
1) Boundary Maintenance – purpose of punishment is to reaffirm societies shared rules and reinforces solidarity… Crime produces a reaction of society all together (April Jones – useful as represents crime & deviance today)
2) Adaptation and change – All change starts with an act of deviance… Challenges the norms of society… Shows what’s wrong with society (Bham Bombings – still being used today, shows usefulness)
 fails to explain how much deviance is required for society to function
 He fails to distinguish types of crime; some are more harmful to society than others
Merton … Strain Theory
People engage with deviance when they are unable to achieve socially approved means by legitimate ways (get frustrated, and act out to criminal means instead)
2 elements of Merton’s theory …
1) Structural factors – societies unequal opportunities structure
2) Cultural factors – the strong emphasis on success goals and the weaker emphasis on using legitimate means to achieve them
Deviance result of strain between 2 things …
1) the goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve
2) what the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately
EG – American Dream (Log Cabin to President) – emphasises money and success through education and hard work, but American isn’t meritocratic
Merton’s 5 adaptions of strain:
Conformity – accept goals & want to achieve legitimately – most MC & Americans
Innovation – except the goal of money success. But use illegitimate means (theft and fraud) e.g. Johnson Brothers
Ritualism – give up on the goals, but have internalised on legitimate means so follow the rules anyway
Retreatism – individuals reject both goals & legitimate means and drop out of society e.g. tramps & drug addicts
Rebellion – replace existing goals and means with new ones with the aim of bringing about social change (Hippies and political radicals)
 Official statistics tend to over represent WC crime so it seen as a WC phenomenon
 Assumes there is a value consensus – everyone strives for money success, when some may not share this goal
Subculture theories …

Merton … (NOT a subcultural theory, but all other sociologists theories are based on his, basis of other theories
Cohen … Status Frustration
Agrees with Merton –…