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Age, crime and deviance.

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Age, crime and deviance.

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  1. Age, crime and deviance. Subcultural theories of why we break the rules.

  2. According to the Ministry of Justice, in April 2009 there were 2,126 15-17 year olds and 9,497 18-20 year olds held in custody in England and Wales. These are down 12% and 1% respectively year-on-year. According to the Prison Reform Trust, over two-thirds are expected to re-offend within two years of release, with over 40% returning to prison. With men, the reconviction rate rises to 82%.

  3. Poor attainment at school, truancy and school exclusion. Peer group pressure. Drug or alcohol misuse and mental illness. No responsibilities so focused on self-gratification. Bullying and alienation. Lack of discipline at home and in school. Hyperactivity. Reasons why young people are more likely to be involved in criminal activity… Troubled home life: violence and/or bad communication between parents and teenagers. Learning problems. Money problems. Deprivation such as poor housing or homelessness. Potentially dodgier lifestyle.

  4. According to a 1998 MORI survey of 11-16 year olds, reported in the Youth Justice Board’s ‘Annual Report’, only seven out of 10 school children can say with certainty that they have not offended in the past year and a quarter (24%) admit to committing an offence during that time. However, only one in six of those who admitted offending said their last offence had been detected by the police. In its ‘Crime Reduction Strategy’, the Government estimates that young people under 18 commit around seven million offences a year.

  5. * Researchers from University of Glamorgan interviewed offenders in prisons and young offenders’ institutions. * They investigated a variety of violent offences, such as carjacking, street robbery, snatch thefts and certain kinds of aggravated burglaries, along with retaliatory, dispute-related, gang and disrespect violence. * In particular, they looked at the role played by factors such as street culture. * This study involved semi-structured interviews with 120 offenders (89 male and 31 female) serving sentences for violent offences in prisons and young offenders’ institutions in England and Wales. The majority were aged 26 or over and white, with 10 per cent defining themselves as black, 12 per cent as mixed race, and just one as Asian.

  6. • Mean number of previous arrests = 45, one-third arrested 50 times or more. Previous convictions = 23, and more than a quarter said they had been convicted of 30 or more offences. • Overall, 92 per cent had used illegal drugs. • About a quarter (23 per cent) said that they were members of gangs or involved in them in some way. • A further 11 per cent said they sometimes offended in groups, but did not define them as gangs. In total, one-third said that they were involved in gangs or criminal groups.

  7. • More than a quarter (28 per cent) said that they had carried a firearm of some sort, including air guns and replica guns. An additional 35 per cent said that they carried some other weapon - usually a knife. • Early analysis identified five main motives for street robbery: ‘good times/partying’, ‘keeping up appearances/flash cash’, ‘buzz/excitement’, ‘anger/desire to fight’, and ‘informal justice/righting wrongs’.

  8. • More detailed analysis revealed a range of individual and social benefits, including status and respect within the peer group. This is part of an emerging street culture in Britain that in some ways resembles its American counterpart. • Some offenders went out alone with the intention to rob an easy target in order to buy drugs. Some robbed in groups or gangs for excitement, while others stole from individuals who had wronged them in some way, as a form of retaliation. • Evidence collected so far suggests that being involved in street life and certain forms of street culture is an important factor in understanding violent street crime.

  9. Task • Answer the following questions • 1. Why do you think the culture of these offenders is of interest? • 2. What norms and values were expressed by the offenders when they were interviewed? • 3. Why do you think they re-offended? • 4. List at least three strengths or weaknesses of this research - GROVER

  10. Sub-cultural theories of crime Starter • Read handouts and discuss answers with a partner

  11. Objectives • To be able to describe Walter B Miller’s sub-cultural theory of crime • To be able to evaluate Walter B Miller’s theory.

  12. Walter B Miller Miller does not see deviant behaviour occurring due to the inability of the lower class groups to achieve success. Instead, he explains crime in terms of the existence of a distinctive lower class subculture – it’s not a reaction to poverty; it’s a way of life. KEY CONCEPTS: lower class subculture; focal concerns; toughness; smartness; excitement; fate; trouble; peer status.

  13. In his theoretical study Miller observes that this lower class group has for centuries possessed their own culture and traditions which are totally different from those in the higher classes. This thus suggests that this lower class culture has been passed on not by one generation but for much longer than this. I’ve taught my lad to duck and dive, laugh at the police and drink White Lightening in parks. I’ll teach my kids to fight, have a laugh and be streetwise.

  14. Walter B. Miller (1962) Miller saw the lower working-class socialised into deviant subcultural values he called ‘focal concerns’ Crime and Deviance Chapter 5: Functionalist and Subcultural Theory

  15. What are the Focal Concerns of this working class subculture? Toughness: this involves a concern for masculinity and finds expression in courage in the face of physical threat and a rejection of timidity and weakness. In practice this can result in assault, and battery as the group attempt to maintain their ‘reputation’. I’m a geezer. Come and have a go.

  16. Excitement: Involves the search for ‘thrills’, for emotional stimulus. In practice it is sought in gambling, sexual adventures and booze, which can be obtained by a traditional night out on the town.

  17. Fate: They believe that little can be done about their lives – and what will be will be; they have no power to change anything. I’ll prob’ly be in prison in a couple of years. Life’s pretty crap, so I’ve nothing to loose. There’s nowt to do except play with my own dribble.

  18. Smartness: this involves the ‘capacity to outfox, outwit, dupe, take others. Groups that use these techniques, include the hustler, conman, and the cardsharp, the pimp and pickpocket and petty thief.

  19. Trouble: young working class males accept their lives will involve violence, and they will not run away from fights.

  20. Miller notes that two factors tend to emphasise and exaggerate the • focal concerns of the lower class subculture. • Close conformity to group norms within a peer group • 2. Desire for status within the peer group. We walk the same, dress the same and live life the same... It’s my mission to make people scared of me. It’s the only way I’ll gain respect seeing as I’ll never get power or status in a job.

  21. Your brain is a muscle –Alphabet edit • A B C D E F G H I J K L • L T R R T T L L R T T R • M N O P Q R S T U V W X • L L T T L R T R R T L L • Y Z • L R

  22. Choose a partner – One listens and one describes Miller’s theory. How clear was the description? Discuss!

  23. Evaluations • Is this study empirical or theoretical? Why is this a problem? • What would Feminists say about Miller’s ideas? • Do you think the ‘Focal concerns’ only apply to lower-class? • Is Miller saying that youth’s are frustrated by their lack of success? • Do you think that young offenders have the same goals as the rest of us?

  24. Critique of Walter B. Miller Crime and Deviance Chapter 5: Functionalist and Subcultural Theory

  25. Re-cap • How did Walter B Miller’s theory differ to Merton’s Strain Theory? • What was one criticism of Miller’s theory? • What were the 6 focal concerns? • Why is this called a sub-cultural theory?

  26. Your brain is a muscle –Alphabet edit • A B C D E F G H I J K L • L T R R T T L L R T T R • M N O P Q R S T U V W X • L L T T L R T R R T L L • Y Z • L R

  27. Objectives • To describe and evaluate Albert Cohen’s sub-cultural theory of crime. • To describe and evaluate Cloward and Ohlin’s Sub-cultural theory of crime.

  28. SCY6 Crime & Deviance: Structural/subcultural theories Albert Cohen He wrote delinquent boys. 1955. This is a structural theory because it argues that criminal behaviour is the result of an individual’s place in the social class structure. KEY CONCEPT: non-utilitarian crime; cultural deprivation; status frustration; delinquent subculture.

  29. SUMMARY OF STUDY: He argues that delinquency is a collective rather than an individual response to status frustration and their position in the class structure. These guys give me the only chance of excitement and status.

  30. Cohen argues Merton doesn’t discuss non-utilitarian crime such as joy riding and vandalism so he sets out to explain this type of crime. Why do I like to just ruin things for no money?

  31. According to Cohen, working-class boys reject mainstream culture. Because of their cultural deprivation and ensuing educational failure, they are denied access to these cultural goals. Hated school, failed everything, no job, can’t live a normal life. For me, crime pays.

  32. Working class boys experience status frustration because they are stuck at the bottom of the stratification system with most avenues to success blocked. I sit around all day wi’ nowt to do, no money and no dignity. I’ve nothing to loose.

  33. They resolve their status frustration by rejecting the success goals of mainstream culture and replacing them with an alternative set that they can achieve within a delinquent subculture in which they can achieve status & prestige. It’s a collective response to the problems of working class teenagers. So we get wasted in the stairwell of our council flat block, instead. We haven’t got a chance in hell of being invited to a cocktail party...

  34. “The delinquent subculture takes its norms from the larger culture but turns them upside down”. Teachers and the papers want us to get jobs, be polite, try hard at school and be nice to old ladies... we’re going to do exactly the opposite.

  35. 5 minutes ! • Can you describe the theory? • What criticisms can you think of ? • Feminists • Marxists • Interactionists

  36. RESEARCH METHOD: this was a theoretical study. • WEAKNESSES: • Box questions Cohen’s claim that delinquent boys reject mainstream culture. • Cohen ignores working class delinquent girls altogether. • Matza backs up Box’s critique by arguing that not all delinquents are strongly opposed to the values of mainstream values, they tend to drift in and out of mainstream society’s moral bind.

  37. Your brain is a muscle –Alphabet edit • A B C D E F G H I J K L • L T R R T T L L R T T R • M N O P Q R S T U V W X • L L T T L R T R R T L L • Y Z • L R

  38. SCY6 Crime & Deviance: Structural/subcultural theories CLOWARD AND OHLIN (1960) They wrote Delinquency & Opportunity, (1961). KEY CONCEPT: legitimate opportunity structure; illegitimate opportunity structure; criminal subcultures; conflict subcultures; retreatist subcultures; utilitarian crime; non-utilitarian crime.

  39. SUMMARY OF STUDY: They focused on how peoples’ opportunities to be deviant are also different: not everyone gets the same chances to be crooks; some have better opportunities to enter into a criminal career, particularly if they have access to a criminal subculture. Can you take my son under your wing? I want him to know everything there is to know about protection racketeering.

  40. By examining access to, and opportunity for entry into, illegitimate opportunity structures, they provide explanations for different forms of deviance.

  41. They begin by arguing that amongst working-classes there is limited or no access to legitimate opportunities like education. So they turn to illegitimate opportunities more easily. So we’ve no chance of getting work. We were all expelled from school. We’ve got time and no self-respect and that’swhy we get up to no good.

  42. Clo and Oh state that depending on the availability of illegitimate opportunities, young people can enter into one of three deviant subcultures: Criminal subcultures are established and organized criminal networks which provide a learning environment for young criminals from criminal role models. They are largely concerned with utilitarian crime that derives financial rewards.

  43. Conflict subcultures develop in areas of limited access to either the legitimate or the illegitimate opportunity structures. There is little organized adult crime to provide an apprenticeship in criminality. Gang violence is a predominant response.

  44. Retreatist subcultures have failed to succeed in both the legitimate and illegitimate opportunity structures and are therefore double failures. Their activities centre mainly around illegal drug abuse. I’ve no qualifications, no job and no future in the normal world... And we’re too soft and stupid to be gangsters. So we just get wasted instead.

  45. RESEARCH METHOD: this was a theoretical study that combined the ideas of both Merton and Cohen. WEAKNESSES: Burke identifies three main criticisms of their work: 1) the idea of the criminal subculture is based on gangs in Chicago in the 1920s and 30s so isn’t particularly applicable to modern British society; 2)Again the theory focuses on MALE deliquency. 3) the idea of retreatist subcultures is a ‘grossly simplistic’ explanation of drug abuse which is actually really common among middle class people.

  46. Plenary • Describe Albert Cohen’s theory including one criticism to a listening partner. • Discuss the clarity of the explanation • Swap round and now the other person describes Cloward and Ohlin’s study including a criticism. • Discuss the clarity.

  47. Key word check • Illigitimate/legitimate opportunity structure • non-utilitarian crime • status frustration • conflict subcultures • retreatist subcultures

  48. SCY6 Crime & Deviance: Structural/subcultural theories Charles Murray He wrote underclass. 1989. KEY CONCEPT: underclass; welfare dependency;