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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance. Merton (1968) developed Durkheim's concept of 'anomie' into his 'strain theory' . Taking the American Dream of economic success he pointed out that it was not possible for everyone to achieve this goal. So how do we cope?

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sociological explanations of deviance
Sociological Explanations Of Deviance
  • Merton (1968) developed Durkheim's concept of 'anomie' into his 'strain theory' .
  • Taking the American Dream of economic success he pointed out that it was not possible for everyone to achieve this goal.
  • So how do we cope?
  • Some succeed by legal means, others turn to illegal paths, some give up on the goal and others make up their own goals
sociological explanations of deviance2
Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Conformity

The response of the majority

They accept the goals of society and the legal means to achieve them

Typical ‘law abiding’ citizen

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Innovation

Accept the goals of society - material success

But reject legal ways of achieving them

May turn to crime to achieve a good lifestyle

Some turn to gambling to achieve this which is not illegal but not the ‘normal’ route to success

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Ritualism

Individuals lose sight of the goals - or give up

But continue to obey the law

Stuck in a rut

May hope for lottery win

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Retreatism

Individual loses sight of goals and the means

May ‘drop out’ or ‘opt out’ of mainstream society

sociological explanations of deviance6
Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Rebellion

Individual rejects the goals and means of mainstream society

And substitutes them with new ones

These are often at odds with mainstream society

eg revolutionary, terrorist etc

sociological explanations of deviance7
Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Evaluating Merton's contribution

  • He ignores power and social class issues

Taylor 1971 sees Merton’s model as a gigantic fruit machine

‘only some players are rewarded…but nobody... asks who put the game there in the first place’

  • Merton fails to explain why an individual chooses one response over another
  • Merton blindly accepts that there is a common core set of values shared by everyone
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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

  • Subcultures are usually defined as cultures within a culture e.g youth culture, working class subculture etc.
  • Some of these groups are antagonistic towards mainstream society and are often referred to as countercultures (see Willis study in Education notes).
  • Those groups who want to overthrow the main culture are called 'contracultures'
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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

  • Subcultural theory has its roots in the Chicago school which earlier this century identified a zoning process in the city whereby groups of similar cultural background occupied the same neighbourhood.
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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

Albert Cohen (1966)

An American - he looked at subcultures and gangs

WC male deviance was not necessarily related to economic ends

Vandalism has no economic reward!

He explained such acts in the context of ‘status frustration’

i.e. Failures at school, often unemployed or in dead end jobs, lived in poor areas and therefore felt they had little stake in ‘mainstream’ society.

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Evaluating Cohen’s views

  • A number of British studies have supported Cohen’s views
  • James Patrick – A Glasgow Gang Observed 1973 – see methods notes
  • David Hargreaves – Deviance in the Classroom 1975
  • Stephen Ball – Beachside Comprehensive 1981
  • Paul Willis – Learning To Labour 1977
  • (all in Education notes)
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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Evaluating Cohen’s views

1. Interpretivists question the idea that we all share such a common value system.

2. All subcultural theories mainly focus on males. Feminists have used the phrase ‘malestream’ sociology to show how females have been ignored in sociology (at least before the 1970’s)

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

Cloward & Ohlin 1961

Looked at similar issues to Cohen and linked aspects of subcultural theory to Merton’s concept of anomie:-

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

Criminal Subculture

This occurs in areas where an established underworld already exists

Young males serve ‘apprenticeships’ in this world

e.g. the world of the Kray twins

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

Conflict Subculture

No clear criminal underworld exists

No ‘apprenticeships’ to follow

Young males turn to gangs

e.g Patrick’s study of Glasgow gangs

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Subcultural Theories

Retreatist Subculture

These are seen as ‘double’ failures

Neither able to serve ‘apprenticeships’ or join gangs

Resort to drug abuse and petty crime.

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Matza 1964

  • The above subcultural approaches have often been criticised for being too deterministic – i.e they see the deviant as a product of his/her social background.
  • Matza attempts to address this shortcoming by showing that we operate with double standards – on the surface we share common law abiding values, but underneath we can occasionally let ‘opposite’ values affect our behaviour
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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Matza

Subterranean Values

People have a surface where they accept the mainstream values

But underneath we have opposite values which surface from time to time

e.g. a wife/husband commits adultery

a boss gets drunk at the office party

What Freud calls the ‘monsters of the id’

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Matza

Techniques Of Neutralization

How people explain ‘untypical’ behaviour

‘I was drunk’ ‘It’s Christmas’ etc.

‘Everyone does it’

The difference is that some groups - the WC commit a lot of their acts in public.

Consider acts of drunkeness on the street on a Saturday night and in a rugby club

- who is more likely to be arrested

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Sociological Explanations Of Deviance

Matza

Evaluating Matza’s Work

Matza adds some balance to the deterministic views of the structuralists

But the techniques of neutralisation may be just excuses