Functionalist, strain and subcultural strain theory

  • Created by: evekav
  • Created on: 04-03-22 10:19
What did Cohen research?
(subcultural strain theory)
Working class boys and how they face strain in the mainstream middle class culture by legitimate means eg the education system.
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What happens to the boys being unable to achieve goals legitimately?
(subcultural strain theory)
The boys suffer status frustration. 
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How does Cohen criticise Merton?
(subcultural strain theory)
*Merton sees deviance as an individual response to strain, ignoring group deviance.
*Merton focuses on utilitarian crime, ignoring crimes such as assault or vandalism.
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How does Cohen explain the reaction of WC boys to failing to achieve?
(subcultural strain theory)
They turn to others in the same situation and form a delinquent subculture with alternative values, rejecting the goals of the school.
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How does an alternative status hierarchy form?
(subcultural strain theory)
The boys form subcultures, based on their shared experiences and create new goals that are achievable to them, which tend to conflict with the middle class culture of the school. They then compete to be the best delinquent in school.
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What is a strength of Cohen's theory?
(subcultural strain theory)
It offers an explanation of non-utilitarian deviance.
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What is a negative of Cohen's theory?
(subcultural strain theory)
He assumes all WC boys share MC success goals and ignores the fact they may never see themselves as failures.
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How do Cloward and Ohlin differ from Cohen?
(subcultural strain theory)
Cloward and Ohlin argued not all subcultures respond to their failure in the same way.
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How do Cloward and Ohlin explain why different subcultures occur?
(subcultural strain theory)
Unequal access to illegitimate opportunity structures (as well as legitimate opportunities as Merton and Cohen argue).
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What are the three forms of subculture by Cloward and Ohlin?
(subcultural strain theory)
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Criminal Subcultures
(subcultural strain theory)
Exist mainly in inner-city estates in which a criminal culture is dominant.
Is easy for frustrated youths to learn criminal skills+ have the opportunity to practice their trade.
They have criminal role models to look up to and learn from.
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Conflict Subcultures
(subcultural strain theory)
Also emerge in inner-city estates, particularly in areas that suffer from a high social turnover.
It is difficult for a criminal culture to develop as different gangs battle with each other for overall control.
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Retreatist Subcultures
(subcultural strain theory)
Some youths who want to be criminals do not always succeed.
These individuals become ‘double failures’ and are unlikely to succeed in professional or violent crime so turn to illegal drug use instead. 
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Evaluation of Cloward and Ohlin
(subcultural strain theory)
*South found the drug trade is both disorganised crime and professional style criminal subculture.
*Strain theories criticised for assuming everyone has the same goals.
*Miller - WC has its own subculture so it can't be frustrated by failure.
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What do functionalists see society as based on?
Value consensus
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What are the 2 mechanisms to achieve solidarity?
*Social control - rewards for conformity and punishment for deviance
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What does Durkheim say about crime?
Crime is normal ... an integral part of all healthy societies.
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Why is crime and deviance found in all societies?
*Not everyone is equally effectively socialised into the shared norms and values-so some prone to deviance
*Diversity of lifestyles and values - subcultures' normal may be seen as deviant in mainstream society.
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What is anomie?
Lack of social or ethical standards in society = weakened shared culture.
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What does Durkheim see the two positive functions of crime?
*Boundary maintenance
*Adaption and change
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Explain boundary maintenance.
Crime=reaction from society which unites members against the wrongdoer and reinforcing their shared norms/values, can be done through court - reaffirming values of law abiding majority and discourages others from rule breaking.
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Explain adaption and change.
All change starts with deviance. New ideas are first seen as deviant and mostly stopped but in the long run they may give rise to a new culture. -> change is needed or society will stagnate but crime cannot be too much or too little.
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What function does Davis argue crime plays?
And Polsky?
*Prostitution=safety valve - for release of men's sexual frustration without threatening the nuclear family.
************-channels variety of sexual desires away from alternatives eg adultery
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What function does Cohen argue crime plays?
A warning device that an institution isn't working properly
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What does Erikson argue the true function of social control agencies are?
To sustain a certain level of crime rather than to get rid of it - as it is inevitable.
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Criticisms of functionalist view of crime.
*They explain existence of crime by its functions - but just because crime does these things it is not necessarily why it exists in the first place.
*Ignores effect of functions on different groups in society
*Crime doesn't always promote solidarity
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What do strain theorists argue about the cause of crime?
(strain theory)
People engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means.
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What does Merton argue deviance is the result of strain between?
(strain theory)
*Goals a culture encourages individuals to achieve
*What institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately.
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What is the reality of the American Dream?
(strain theory)
Many disadvantaged groups are denied opportunities to achieve legitimately resulting in strain between cultural goal of money success and lack of legitimate opportunity to achieve=frustration.
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What does the inability to achieve the American Dream cause?
(strain theory)
A pressure to resort to illegitimate means -> Merton calls the pressure to deviate-the strain to anomie.
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What are the 5 types of adaptation according to Merton?
(strain theory)
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Explain Conformity
(strain theory)
Individuals accept culturally approved goals and strive to achieve them legitimately, most likely MC individuals but is the most common of Americans.
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Explain Innovation
(strain theory)
Individuals accept the goal of money success but use new illegitimate means to achieve it.
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Explain Ritualism
(strain theory)
Individuals give up on trying to achieve the goals but internalised the legitimate means so follow the rules for their own sake - typically MC office workers in dead-end routine jobs.
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Explain Retreatism
(strain theory)
Individuals reject both the goals and legitimate means and become dropouts.
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Explain Rebellion
(strain theory)
Individuals reject existing society's goals and means and replace them with new ones to bring about revolutionary change and a new society.
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Evaluation of Merton
*Takes crime stats at face value - they overrepresent WC crime
*Marxists argue it ignores the power of the ruling class to make and enforce laws that criminalise the poor
*Assumes value consensus
*Ignores group deviance
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What happens to the boys being unable to achieve goals legitimately?
(subcultural strain theory)


The boys suffer status frustration. 

Card 3


How does Cohen criticise Merton?
(subcultural strain theory)


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


How does Cohen explain the reaction of WC boys to failing to achieve?
(subcultural strain theory)


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


How does an alternative status hierarchy form?
(subcultural strain theory)


Preview of the front of card 5
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