Cultural Deviance Theory

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Theory is essential for capturing the fundamental nature of criminology. Cultural deviance theories combine social disorganization and strain in order to explain why lower class neighborhoods respond the way they do when they cannot attain a social status. The work of Robert K. Merton’s theory of anomie has further influenced the theoretical work of Richard Cloward, Lloyd Ohlin, and Albert Cohen which elaborates on cultural deviance theories. People share most of the same values and goals such as a nice home, new car, and a good education. However the hierarchical order of social classes makes it difficult to achieve those goals when the legitimate means are unavailable. Let’s take a look at the theory differential opportunity and theory of …show more content…
There are three types of illegitimate subcultures: criminal gangs, conflict gangs and retreatist gangs. Criminal gangs are found in neighborhoods where there is a relationship between young adolescents and adult offenders that create criminal activity. Hierarchy exists, furthermore once recruited adolescents are trained in order to be able to conduct specific criminal activities. Conflict gangs develop in neighborhoods that are incapable of providing legitimate or illegitimate opportunities. This gang captures the attention of adolescents that gain respect by fighting with weapons and engage in destructive behavior. Retreatist gangs are not capable of obtaining success through legitimate means and are reluctant to do so through illegitimate means either; these are considered double failures. Unable to achieve their aspirations, members seek status through other means such as drug abuse. Whether it’s by acceptable means or a criminal path, Cloward and Ohlin articulate that in this theory the opportunity for success is overall minimal. Subsequently is discussed the theory of delinquent subcultures that affects youth of the lower …show more content…
This theory is also known as the lower class reaction theory due to the unintentional discrimination of their way of life by the middle class. The lower class lacks the means necessary to achieve an aspired status, furthermore unable to attain the middle class success. Reacting to discrimination, juveniles reject those middle class values and goals in order to boost their self-esteem. In this case, the parents themselves lack the skills necessary to achieve middle class success. An implication that family structure is important, consequently parents are unable to teach their children the required skills. This process moreover blocks juveniles from attaining such values and goals. In his theoretical approach Cohen suggests that juveniles engage in delinquent subcultures by associating with people who engage in delinquent practices found in inner city environment. Delinquency here is not acted out in need of valuables but rather for vicious reasons that may result in a status or gained

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