SOCI 2445 – A
Sociology of Deviance
Lecture Three: Positivist Theories of Deviance
DEVELOPMENT OF GANGS/GANG BEHAVIOUR – POSITIVIST Theories (con’t)
Albert Cohen – Theory of Status Frustration
Our society encourages all people to achieve status. Status frustration develops when
one cannot achieve the success that others achieve. Cohen (Book - Delinquent Boys)
identified the fact that lower-class males found themselves in the school system which
catered to middle-class males: Run by middle-class teachers for middle-class students.
This made it difficult for those of the lower-class to compete. Driven by this frustration,
status frustration is created. These boys react by competing against their own peers in
their own neighbourhoods. As a result, gangs are formed. Notion of delinquency. Is
Cohen’s theory valid?
Cloward and Holon – Theory of Legitimate/Illegitimate Pathways to Success
Pathways = opportunities/something one can pursue. Not everyone has equal access to
pathways. As a result, some will turn to delinquent or anti-social behaviour to attempt to
achieve access. Believes a delinquent act can be defined by two elements:
1. Breaking of societal norms
2. Being brought to the attention of social control agents/authorities
Deviance varies from culture to culture and what may be considered a norm in one
culture may be considered deviance elsewhere.
Edwin Heart Sutherland – Theory of Differential Association (social learning
There are nine principals that set out this theory:
1. Criminal behaviour is learned behaviour.
2. You learn it in interaction with others.
3. The principal part of the learning of deviant/criminal behaviour occurs within
intimate, personal groups. You will commit a crime with someone you know.
4. The learning includes the techniques of committing the crime and the specific
direction of motives, drives, rationalisation and attitudes.
5. The direction of those motives and drives are learned from definitions of the legal
codes as favourable or unfavourable. (How they view the law) 2
6. The person becomes a criminal because of an excessive definitions
favourable to violation of the law over definitions unfavourable to violation
of the law. In other words, they weigh the pros and cons of breaking the
law. (Central definition of differential association)
7. Differential associations vary in frequency, duration, priority and intensity.
8. The learning demands the same mechanisms (patterns or behaviours) as any
9. As criminal behaviour is an expression of general needs and values, it cannot be
explained by those same general needs and values.
Sutherland is saying that we all make choices. We can explain criminal behaviour by
these choices, but not by the same aspirations.
Control Theories want to know what causes CONFORMITY, rather than what causes
deviance (as Structural-Functional do). They also reject the Freudian idea that deviance