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FSU CCJ 3011 - Subcultural Theories

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Subcultural Theories Deals with the passing of norms in a social context When behaviors rooted in the values of one subculture conflict with those of society at large problems arise This conflict of values and the behaviors motivated by those values can cause criminal delinquent behavior This is called the culture conflict or cultural deviance Thorsten Sellin Conflict of conduct norms Conformity to the norms of many subcultures may contradict norms of the dominant culture placing members in the subculture in the position of violating the norms of some social group no matter how the members conduct themselves Crime is explained in terms of conduct norms learned in a subculture that does not shape legal codes ex p 325 Marvin Wolfgang and Franco Ferracuti Subculture of violence Intended to explain assaults and homicide that occur spontaneously heat of passion Subculture of violence is partly different from its parent culture A subculture of violence exists when a violent and physical aggressive response is expected to defend themselves Elijah Anderson Code of the street Requires residents to project toughness engage in violent posturing and resort to violence Compelled to risk their life in a violent confrontation if disrespected Distinguishes between decent families and street families o Decent families committed to hard work educational achievement and middle class values o Street families adopts the street values emphasizes toughness violence Rules of the code are enforced by members of the neighborhood All families must learn the code Knowledge is necessary for normal everyday life o Code switching is common for decent people o Situations arise when violence is necessary o Switch back to normal middle class norms after o Not possible for street people Have too much to risk by switching Walter Miller Lower class focal concerns Low class persons display a set of focal concerns that distinguish them from of mainstream of American society These focal concerns are observed through behaviors o Trouble Unwanted interference from representatives of the dominant culture Concerned in getting into trouble o Toughness Determination to demonstrate one s masculinity through physical combat o Smartness Ability to manipulate and outwit others with verbal and psychological skills Outmaneuvering the police in verbal exchanges making them look foolish o Excitement Relieving the monotone routine through entertainment that often violates the norms of the dominant culture Getting high fighting sexual encounters o Fate Belief in little control over the forces shaping one s life Preoccupations with fate is reflected by gambling and tattoos o Autonomy Resentment of the idea of external controls no freedom Southern culture of violence Southern U S has a long history of violence esp high homicide rates Two perspectives why o Structural disadvantages Poverty low education slavery racism o Cultural approach The South has a distinct cultural composition that is more open to violence as means of resolving disputes Control Theories Views crime as a consequence of the failure of social constraints Everyone commits crime if not controlled Techniques of Neutralization Learning criminal delinquent behavior includes values and rationalizations and techniques of committing offenses To allow violations of laws one believes in while preserving self image neutralization must precede go before the offense 5 techniques of neutralization o Denial of responsibility Denying culpability for law violation it was an accident not my fault o Denial of injury Claiming that no real harm was done they can afford it I was just borrowing it o Denial of the victim Transforming the victim into a justifiable target For delinquent acts against property the victim is unknown or absent got what they deserved o Condemnation of the condemners The offenders maintain that those who condemn their offense are doing so purely out of spite or are shifting the blame off of them unfairly They are blaming me because they don t like me corrupt cops are getting away with worse o Appeal to higher loyalties When the person feels they must break the laws of the overall community to benefit their small group family for the greater good Travis Hirschi Developed proposed the Social Bonding Theory and Self Control Theory Social Bonding Theory Focused on explaining why most people don t commit crime Not on why they do it Focused on bonds with social groups peers family and school More tightly bonded people are less likely to commit crime The weaker the ties the more likely for people to commit crime Identified 4 types of bonds o Attachment Most important bond Affection that characterizes a relationship between people Extent an individual cares about the opinions of conventional others More likely to refrain from crime if strongly bonded to others mostly parents Don t want to sacrifice relationship with delinquent behavior People think of the repercussions of getting caught o Commitment Commitments are potentially jeopardized with delinquency Punishment could result in losing all benefits of commitment Conformity is encouraged by fear of losing what you have want Prospects for employment educational opportunities will discourage delinquent behavior The more ambitious a person is the less likely for them to commit crime o Involvement o Belief standards Too busy with conventional activities to engage in delinquent acts People with a lot of free time are more likely to engage in delinquency Don t have to agree with all laws beliefs Have to accept that laws rules represent moral The stronger the peoples belief in the conventional order is the less likely they are to offend Not necessary to have all bonds The more bonds present the stronger the effect Self Control Theory A General Theory of Crime Introduced by Michael Gottfredson and Hirschi in 1990 All crime is caused by low self control Levels of self control predict all behaviors This characteristic is stable across the life course and set by age eight Analogous acts non criminal behaviors also result in low self control drinking smoking illicit sex Individuals with low self control will consistently engage in behavior that causes problems for themselves and others Low self control is rooted in poor childhood rearing experiences Self control is taught in early childhood implying that parental discipline and management are the only factors explaining delinquency and adult criminal offending Characteristics of


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