Essay on Sociology on Crime

Submitted By libbyemilynicholls
Words: 1021
Pages: 5

Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of subcultural theories in explaining ‘subcultural crime and deviance’ in society today (21 marks)
Subcultural theories hold a belief that everyone in society has groups that hold different norms and values to the minority of people who commit crimes, for example; Sociologists in Chicago University conducted a participant observation with a huge number of migrants from Europe and South USA, they founds that deviant groups in society have clear norms and values which justify their behaviour.
Looking at Item A ‘Some sociologists link subcultural crime and deviance to the nature of Capitalism’ this suggests that crime is not a result of deviant norms and values but simply monetary gain, People in the social system are allocated different goals depending on where they stand in the social spectrum, however the system can only work If people reach their goals, if they can’t then you can reach an anomie. Robert Merton published an article called “Social Structure and Anomie” He compared crime rates in different parts of the USA, and believed that conventional American values and high competition and obsession for monetary success increased serious crime rates, Merton undermined American society. Merton referred to this weakening of cultural norms as “anomie.” His adoption of the term “anomie” is based on Durkheim’s (1897) reference to the weakening of the normative order in society, or, put differently, how institutionalised social norms may lose their ability to regulate individuals’ behaviour. In particular, Merton noted that institutionalised norms will weaken, and anomie will set in, in societies that place a large value on economic success. When this occurs, the pursuit of success is no longer guided by normal standards of right and wrong.
Merton noted that there were different ways in which individuals may adapt to the “strains” brought on by the inability to secure financial success, and not all of these adaptations are deviant. Famously, Merton proposed that there were a number of adaptations possible in response to social systems that have anomie and blocked opportunities. These adaptations are: innovation, in which the goals are pursued but legitimate means are eliminated and illegitimate means are used; ritualism, in which the goals are abandoned but the legitimate means are pursued; retreatism, in which the goals are abandoned as well as the means; and rebellion, in which the social structure – both goals and means – is rejected and a new structure is advocated. A fifth adaptation is conformity, in which the goals are accepted and pursued, along with the legitimate means. Although Merton failed to articulate what factors determine which deviant adaptations will be adopted, his theory predicts that rates of deviance will be greater when the level of anomie is higher and when the extent of blocked opportunities is greater.
Cloward and Ohlins explained delinquency and subculture by depicting Merton’s idea of strain. Agreeing to the idea that American culture makes people feel that if they have talent and ability they will be successful and continue to have financial independence as a result. However Cloward and Ohlin argue that even if Americans conform to higher education and do well they do not have automatic doors to success and access to legitimate opportunity structures are unequal. Although there are qualified applicants there are not enough sufficient and suitable jobs to go around compared to the number of applicants. The type of opportunity available to young adults questions whether they want to continue social conformity and expectation or they become a delinquent. Even those successful working class applicants found it harder to compete with middle class applicants and felt they were at a disadvantage; as they were discriminated against their background of religion or choice of dress. This feeling can turn those of working class who are