Subculture of Violence Theory in Today’s Society
Gang activity and gang violence is a growing concern in the United States today. It is estimated that there are approximately 760,000 gang members and over 24,000 active gangs in various jurisdictions within the United States (World Vision, 2011). It is also estimated that 155 children are arrested for his or her participation in violent crimes every year and that most of this violence is directly related to gangs and gang activity (World Vision, 2011). In order to address this growing epidemic, those working in the field of criminal justice have turned to existing sociological theories. One theory that may be instrumental in addressing the problems associated with gang violence and gang activity in today’s society is the Subculture of Violence Theory by Marvin Wolfgang. Not only could this theory provide individuals in criminal justice and the community with the rationale behind gang violence and gang activity, it will also assist them in creating strategies to address this growing epidemic.
Subculture of Violence Theory
In the 1960’s, Marvin Wolfgang and his esteemed colleague Franco Ferracuti formulated the Subculture of Violence Theory (Wolfgang & Silverman, 2002). Based on sociological and criminology traditions, this theory posited that individuals that grow-up in and/or that are exposed to a subculture that approves of and welcomes violence will be at increased risk for participating in violent acts and possessing violent behaviors (Wolfgang & Silverman, 2002). Specifically, Wolfgang & Ferracuti (1967) state that “Like all human behavior, homicide and other violent assaultive crimes must be viewed in terms in the cultural context from which they spring” (p. 150). The researchers go on to explain that violent behavior or deviancy “is not evenly distributed throughout the social structure [in fact] there is much empirical evidence that class position, ethnicity, occupational status, and other social variables are effective indicators for predicting rates of different kinds of deviance” (Wolfgang & Ferracuti, 1967, p. 151). Upon conclusion of their study, Wolfgang & Ferracuti (1967) not only accepted this hypothesis, but they also determined that individuals living within these environments were more susceptible to violence and deviant behavior from exposure to his or her immediate environment and the general acceptance of these actions and behaviors within his or her environment.
Several claims were also established within the Subculture of Violence Theory that was created by Wolfgang & Ferracuti (1967). Not only did the researchers claim that violent behavior is necessary for survival in subcultures that contain a high degree of violence and deviancy, they also claimed that individuals living in these environments would be forced to carry weapons for protection and survival (Wolfgang & Ferracuti, 1967). In turn, these protective activities become symbolic of the...