Evaluation of Sociological Theories
Deviance can be described as: "Nonconformity with existing/traditional
social norms. This nonconformity is often said to be pathological when
it challenges power and privilege; yet it is said to be indicative of
innovation or creativity when the gatekeepers of morality approve it.
A loaded term, deviancy is a negative asset when the environment is
stable but can be a positive asset to a society when the environment
is irreversibly changing." Each perspective asks different questions
and focuses on different issues regarding crime and deviance. They
have different ideas about the causes of crime.
Subcultural theories on crime and deviance were developed in the late
1950s and early 1960s from the works of Albert Cohen(1955) and Richard
Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin(1960). They suggested that people react to
forces 'external' to them, this leads them to behave in certain ways.
Their behaviour is determined by social causes. Criminals behave
differently from non-criminals. Subcultural theorists have attempted
to seek the causes of these differences, they claim to have identified
malfunctions in the social order. These malfunctions are seen to be
rectifiable by different types of social engineering e.g. Social
reform, social welfare and education. Crimes are 'social facts' and
therefore must have 'social causes'. Criminals are not seen as
'abnormal' individuals by subcultural theorists, but as social actors
influenced by social causes.
Statistics have indicated that criminals are mostly male, adolescent,
working class and urban living. An idea inspired by Durkhiem (1952)
suggested that this is a 'social condition where norms guiding conduct
break down leaving individuals without social constraint'.
Crime and Deviance is a product of an imbalance in society's goals an
opportunity structures. Hard work and effort should be rewarded with
status and material wealth. Some social groups (especially working
class males) find that this is not the case. Working class male youths
see images of success in the media and have high aspirations, which
they are unable to reach. The opportunity structures are not in place
for them. Socialisation with friends and family leave them unprepared
for school and college, which is basically a middle class environment.
They have come to terms with this by forming subcultures. As a group
they look for solutions to their frustration.
"Delinquents have withdrawn their support from established norms and
have invested officially forbidden norms of conduct with a claim to
legitimacy in the light of their special situation"
[Cloward and Ohlin, 1960]
Members of subcultures reject conventional values, they do not succeed
in school or college, but they are good at things that their
A criticism of...