subcultural theories l.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Subcultural Theories PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Subcultural Theories

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 29

Subcultural Theories - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Subcultural Theories. ▪ Several Theories emerged from late 1950s through the 1960s ▪ Attempt to explain the formation and activity of delinquent subcultures ▪ Subculture defined as a group (such as a street gang) that holds different norms and values than mainstream society

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Subcultural Theories' - sandra_john

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
subcultural theories
Subcultural Theories

▪ Several Theories emerged from late 1950s through the 1960s

▪ Attempt to explain the formation and activity of delinquent subcultures

▪ Subculture defined as a group (such as a street gang) that holds different norms and values than mainstream society

  • Combined ideas from both strain theory (Merton) and differential association –> “mixed models”
specific subcultural theories
Specific Subcultural Theories

1. Status frustration (Cohen)

2. Differential opportunity theory (Cloward and Ohlin)

3. Focal concerns of the lower class (Miller)

status frustration 1 of 3
Status Frustration (1 of 3)

▪ Albert Cohen

▪ From Merton: strain causes crime

      • BUT, for Cohen, not “American Dream” frustrations, but strain caused by inability to reach middle class
        • Can’t “buy” middle class status
  • From Sutherland: crime as learned
      • New values are passed on (learned by) new members of the subculture
status frustration 2 of 3
Status Frustration (2 of 3)

▪ Turning point occurs when boys reach school age

▪ 1950s school systems entrenched in middle-class values and social networks

▪ Lower-class boys singled out by their dress, manners, and attitudes (“tracking”)

▪ Middle-class measuring rod

  • If cannot meet? In “market” for solution.
status frustration 3 of 3
Status Frustration (3 of 3)

▪ Delinquent “reaction formation” = value the opposite of middle class:

▪ Aggression

▪ Toughness

▪ Hedonism

▪ Immediate gratification

▪ Loyalty

▪ Conformity

Cohen: Most delinquency is malicious, negative and not utilitarian (not achieving American dream)

differential opportunity theory 1 of 2
Differential Opportunity Theory (1 of 2)

▪ Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin

▪ From Merton: Lack of legitimate opportunities for success causes strain

▪ Blocked economic aspirations lead to poor self-image

▪ Frustration leads to delinquency

  • From Sutherland: much delinquency requires access to “illegitimate means” for success
    • Delinquents learn criminal trades within neighborhood
differential opportunity theory 2 of 2
Differential Opportunity Theory (2 of 2)

▪ Delinquent subcultures

▪ Criminal subculture

▪ Where illegitimate opportunities exist, delinquents seek economic gain, view crime as a career

▪ Conflict subculture

▪ Where no illegitimate opportunities exist, gangs fight over turf and place high value on violence

▪ Retreatist subculture

▪ “Double losers”: Emphasizes drug abuse or other forms of escape

focal concerns of the lower class 1 of 2
Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (1 of 2)

▪ Walter Miller

▪ Views entire lower class as subculture

▪ Focal concerns (values) foster delinquency.

▪ Lower-class youth respond to these values and develop a subculture of delinquency.

focal concerns of the lower class 2 of 2
Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (2 of 2)

▪ Trouble: Violent situations, interactions with the police

▪ Toughness: Need to demonstrate that one can stand up to adversity

▪ Smartness: Street smarts

▪ Excitement: Thrill of engaging in conflict

▪ Fate: What happens in life is beyond one’s control

▪ Autonomy: Intolerance of challenges to one’s personal sphere

focal concerns of the lower class 3 of 3
Focal Concerns of the Lower Class (3 of 3)
  • Social Structure
    • Predominance of female-based households contributes to this problem.

▪ Lower-class adolescents often go out on the streets to learn appropriate adult male behavior.

  • Criticisms of theory

▪ Failure to put the focal concerns in context

▪ Many middle-class youth share “focal conerns”

focal concerns code of the streets
Focal Concerns  Code of the Streets

▪ Elijah Anderson

▪ Lower-class youth guided by code of the streets

▪ Informal rules that govern interpersonal behavior

▪ Heart of the code is fear of being disrespected

  • Grounded within structural reality (despair, lack of opportunity, etc) of inner city life
policy implications
Policy Implications

▪ Cohen = ?

  • Cloward and Ohlin?

▪ Mobilization for Youth program

      • Provide legitimate opportunities for success to members of the lower class (Job programs, apprenticeships, etc)

▪ Organize social institutions in poor neighborhoods (political power)

  • Miller
      • Importance of prosocial male role models (Men as Peacemakers?)
subcultural theory criticism
Subcultural Theory Criticism

▪ Narrow scope

▪ Focus on lower-class boys

▪ Does not account for white-collar crime, middle-class crime, or female offending

▪ Are gangs are truly subcultures?

▪ Assumes almost perfect socialization to gang

control theories
Control Theories
  • Control = shorthand for informal social control
  • Theories covered
    • Hirschi (social bonds)
    • Gottfredson and Hirschi (low self-control)
    • Sampson and Laub (age graded social control)
assumptions about motivation towards crime
Assumptions about “Motivation towards crime”
  • Strain theory: motivation from some sort of strain (e.g. blocked opportunity)
  • Learning theory: motivation from delinquent peers
  • Control theory: there is enough natural motivation towards crime
    • No need to “build in” extra motivation
    • Real question? Why aren’t we all criminal?
types of control
Types of Control
  • Direct Control
    • Direct punishments, rewards from parents, friends
  • Indirect Control
    • Refrain from deviance because you don’t want to risk friends, job, etc.
  • Internal Control
    • Good self-concept, self-control, conscience
walter reckless containment theory as precursor to control theories
Walter Reckless’ Containment Theoryas precursor to “control” theories

Inner (Good self concept)


  • Outer Containment
  • parents/school
  • supervision
  • Pushes and Pulls
  • poverty, anger,delinquent
  • subculture


OUT HERE !!!!!!

enter travis hirschi
  • Causes of Delinquency (1969)
    • Was an attack on other theories as much as a statement of his theory
    • Self-report data (CA high schools)
    • Measures from “competing theories”
  • This book was the first of its kind!
social bond theory
Social Bond Theory
  • “Bond” indicates “Indirect Control”
    • Direct controls (punishment, reinforcement) less important because delinquency occurs when out of parents’ reach (adolescence).
  • Attachment
  • Commitment (Elements of the social bond
  • Involvement are all related to each other)
  • Belief
or put another way
Or, Put Another Way…

The Social Bond






Fun, thrilling, quick and easy satisfaction of desires

hirschi s evidence in favor of bonds
Hirschi’s Evidence in Favor of Bonds
  • Attachment
    • Attachment to parents (wish to emulate, identify with)
  • Commitment
    • Grades, educational aspirations
  • Belief
    • Techniques of Neutralizations
criticisms of hirschi s theory
Criticisms of Hirschi’s Theory
  • Delinquents do form relationships
  • Attachment to delinquent peers or parents increases, rather than decreases delinquency
  • Which comes first, bonds or delinquency?
  • Bonds more salient for females, and early in adolescence
gottfredson and hirschi 1990
Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990)
  • A General Theory of Crime
    • Same control theory assumptions
    • If we are all inclined to be deviant, why conform?
  • Because most of us develop “self-control”
    • “Internal control”
    • Developed by age 8, as the result of “direct control” from parents
nature of crime nature of low self control
Nature of Crime, Nature of Low Self-Control

People with low self-control

are therefore…



Physical (as opposed to mental)

Low verbal ability



Criminal Acts…

Provide immediate gratification

of desires

Are risky/thrilling

Are easy/simple

Require little skill/planning

Provide few/meager long term


Result in pain/discomfort to a


the implications of low self control
The implications of low self-control
  • Explains “stability of criminal behavior”
    • But, how does it explain “aging out?”
  • Explains all crime and analogous behaviors
    • Analogous = same “nature” as criminal acts
empirical support
Empirical Support
  • Moderate relationship between low self-control and both crime and analogous behaviors
  • Holds for both males and females
  • BUT
    • Not the “sole cause” of crime
    • May not explain white collar crime at all
age graded theory of informal social control
“Age Graded Theory of Informal Social Control”
  • Sampson and Laub
  • We will cover this again in the “lifecourse” theory section
  • Takes Hirschi’s (1969) theory and made it “age graded”
      • The specific elements of the social bond change over the life-course
      • Also includes elements of “direct control”
      • Also throws in some other stuff (integrated theory)
sampson and laub
Sampson and Laub

Childhood Adolescence Adulthood

  • Parenting
  • Supervision
  • Discipline
  • Social Bonds
  • Family
  • School
  • Delinquent Peers



Adult Crime



Length of


  • Social Bonds
  • Marriage
  • Good Job
policy implications29
Policy Implications
  • Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory
    • Target attachment, commitment, belief
  • Gottfredson and Hirschi’s General Theory
    • Must focus on early childhood prevention
    • Train parents?
  • Sampson and Laub
    • Different targets for different ages
    • Importance of adult bonds (job, marriage)