Cohen's Theory Essay

1512 words - 7 pages

According to Siegel (2013) Albert Cohen developed the theory of delinquent subcultures in his classic 1995 book, Delinquent Boys. Cohen believes that the delinquent behavior of lower class youth actually goes against the norms and values of middle-class U. S. culture. These youths experience what he calls status frustration due to social conditions that enable them to achieve success legitimately. As a result of this social conflict the youths join gangs and become involved in behavior that is “nonutilitarian, malicious, and negativistic. This gang subculture possesses a value system directly opposed to that of the larger society. Their norms of society are completely opposite. Their conduct ...view middle of the document...

According to Cohen when lower-class boys are rejected by middle class decision makers they usually elect to join three existing subcultures. The corner boy is the most common response. They are not chronically delinquent but may be involved in petty or status offenses. He is loyal to his peers and eventually becomes a stable member of his neighborhood. The college boy embraces the cultural and social values of the middle class and strives to be successful by these standards. These youths are on an almost hopeless path because they are ill-equipped academically, socially, and linguistically to achieve the rewards of middle class life. The delinquent boy adopts a set of norms and principles in direct opposition to middle class values. They live for the day and do not think about tomorrow. They go against efforts made by family, school, or other sources of authority to control their behavior. The attraction, loyalty, and solidarity are some of the reasons they join gangs along with the gangs perception of autonomy and independence. Reaction formation is the result of the delinquent boy’s inability to succeed. The real problem for Cohen is status frustration, not blocked opportunity (Siegel, 2013). Lower-class youth desire approval and status, but because they cannot meet middle-class criteria, they become frustrated (Criminology chapter 4 outline sagepub.com). They overreact to any perceived threat or slight. They are also willing to take risk, violate the law, and flout middle-class conventions. Cohen’s work explains the factors that promote and sustain a delinquent subculture. His concepts of status frustration and middle-class measuring rods show that social forces and not individual traits also promote and sustain a delinquent career. His work also explains why the corner boy, the college boy and the delinquent boy do not become chronic offenders (Siegel, 2013).

I believe as a long standing tradition middle class measuring rods exist only in theory. Slowly our middle class society is disappearing however we still hold to the morals and values of middle class America. Many of our dreams are not being realized as they once were. The value of hard work does not measure up as it once did. Americans are losing what they once worked hard for overnight. Many of our young people are graduating from college without much hope for the future because they are overwhelmed with student loans to start out with.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the name given to a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district. According to Downs (2011) the main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, We are the 99%, refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of...

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