SOC222 Lecture Notes - Erving Goffman, Frank Tannenbaum, Symbolic Interactionism

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Chapter 6 and 10: Theories
Saturday, March 2, 2013
4:44 PM
Chapter 6: Lower-Class-Based Theories
Subcultural Lower-Class Theory
o Two theoretical Perspectives
Strain Theories
Delinquency is the result of the frustrations suffered by the lower class who are
deprived of legitimate means to achieve their goals
Subculture (Cultural Deviance Theories)
Learn criminal values and behaviour conforming to group standards which leads
to breaking the laws of the dominant culture
7.1: Sub cultural Lower-Class Theory
o Primary Assumptions
Most delinquent behaviour occurs in groups
Predominantly a lower-class male phenomenon
o Theoretical Assumptions
Belonging to a group is a way of coping
Delinquent involves primarily lower-class boys from working class families
Boy's poor performance in school is related to delinquency
Poor school performance is due to cultural conflict between the middle-class and lower-
class values
"The delinquent subculture is the explicitly and wholesale repudiation of
middle-class standards and the adoption of their very antithesis"
o Middle Class Measuring Rod
Dominant Class Values (the rod)
Ambition is a virtue
Ethics of individual responsibility
High evaluation of the cultivation and possession of skills
Delayed gratification
Rationality and planning
Cultivation of manners, courtesy, personality
Control of physical aggression and violence
Wholesome recreation
Respect for property
Why is there so much crime among lower-class youth??
Middle class measuring rod
Lower-class youth are different in many ways from dominant
Status frustration
Reaction formation
The Process of Status Frustration
Lower class socialization-> middle-class measuring rod-> school failure-> status
frustration-> reaction formation-> delinquency and delinquent subculture
o Ideal Delinquent Subculture
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Group autonomy
Non-utilitarian delinquency
Short run hedonism
o Cohen argues that other factors can condition the response to status frustration:
Conditions at home
Individual's personality
Characteristics of the neighbourhood
o Adapting to Status Frustration
College bou
Corner boy
Delinquent boy
o Research Support
Lower class youth tend not to do as well in school compared to others (support)
School performance is related to delinquency (support)
Conflict between lower-class and middle-class values (partial support)
Delinquency occurs in a group context (partial support)
7.2 Differential Opportunity Theory
o Two basic assumptions
Blocked economic aspirations lead to a low self-concept and frustrations
Frustrations lead to delinquency that vary by the structure of the conventional and
criminal value systems in that particular neighbourhood
o Differential Opportunity Theory is a combination of Merton's anomie theory and
Sutherland's differential association theory
o They use the following components
Enphasis on cultural goals
Access to legitimate means are socially structured
Focus on the discrepancy between what is wanted and what is available
Cloward and Ohlin differ in that they show how illegitimate means are differentially
distributed in society
Cloward and Ohlin believe that lower-class delinquents remain goal oriented
Focus on the process by which certain values and skills are learned through
interaction with other in a primary group
Illegitimate opportunity involves learning and expressing the beliefs necessary for
subcultural support
Occurs due to frustration created by not having access to legitimate means for
economic success
Differential Opportunity Theory
o Features of Delinquent Subculture
Subcultural support of delinquent acts results in greater frequency of these acts
Youth participation in delinquent subculture can provide access to adult criminal career
Provides for a high degree of stability and resistance to control or change
o Support for differential opportunity
Blocked economic aspirations affect attitudes and cause frustration (little support)
Lower-class gangs specialize by type of neighbourhood (partial support)
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o Differential opportunity theory provides a good explanation for the content of gang
delinquency, but it doesnt explain how delinquency starts in the first place
7.3: Miller's Lower-Class Culture
o Key points:
Juvenile delinquency is predominantly male and lower-class
Delinquency occurs because of the existence of a unified lower-class culture with its
own distinct value system
Miller sees delinquency as a reflection of a lower-class culture
Lower-class values are important for the survival of the lower-class males
Crime is motivated by the attempt to achieve valued goals
o Theoretical Assumptions
Lower-class focal concerns exist
Focal concerns are the values that people focus on most living in this culture
Male adolescent groups (gangs) form in response to female- headed households and
the lack of male role models
o Focal Concerns
Respect gained by being involved in and coping with conflict
Lawful versus illegal behaviour
Hyper-masculine value of being able to withstand physical and emotional
suffering and having a high capacity for violence
Not formal education, but "street wise" ability to gain personal advantage
(conning and crime savvy)
A high value placed on the pursuit of hedonistic pleasures through partying, the
use of psychoactive substances and sexual conquest
A belief is an external locus of control results in committing and participating in
high risk behaviours
The need to be free from external constraints and the dominant cultural values,
rules, and regulations
o The corner gang replaces these missing functions from the family
Belonging or adherence to the rules of the gang
Status is derived from achieving the focal concerns as they are defined within the
cultural framework of the lower-class culture
o Research Support
A distinct set of values exist for the economically disadvantaged in society (support)
7.4 Radical Theory: Explanations for Delinquency
o Four primary Theoretical Assumptions
Most behaviour results from a class struggle over the modes of production
Capitalist economic system creates the class divisions
Proletariat are controlled by the bourgeoisie (economically, legally)
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