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Lecture 7

SOC212H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Black Kids, Causses, Ahold

Course Code
Candace Kruttschnitt

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SOC212 Lecture 7: October 24, 2012
Strain theory:
University of Chicago, and there are two strains that developed there
Merton: Big banana on strain theory
In text, suggests strain theory constitutes the first truly systematic use of
cultural/subculture occurs in explanation of delinquency, you’ll see how
much he was influenced by merton but also by his own development of the
importance of culture in explaining delinquency
Contribution: focus on the origins of delinquent sub culture. And in so doing
he wanted to examine how culture functioned and served to solve problems
forkids. If you are in a position of strain. Cohen really talked about how
culture can serve as a way of solving problems for delinquent kids.
As Downes and Rock point out, some cultures borrow elements from larger
cultlures and re work them into distinct forms. Reading for this week goes
into a lot ode tail about different people who wrote aboutculture/rural
culture (ie. Miller: lower class delinquent youth) even put in label theory
(she don’t like) save label theory for next week..
Cohen introduced his theory of delinquency in order to explain what he said
was two known facts:
1. The existence and content of delinquent sub culture
(why it exists and what I tlooks like)
2. the concentration of this sub culture among the male working class
He says ‘lok it, the lower class embraces the middle class success ethic. As
merton did, cohen rejected that the lower class had a culture which was
different from the middle or upper class. Everyone has internalized this
desire to get ahead. And the desire to become successful. Why? bBecause
middle class values have taken ahold of values (watch TV, attend schools
(which are saturated with middle class values), go to movies)
Over time, members of every class think they have to get ahead, respect for
property, material success was very important. Also said that the
socialization of lower class children wreally hinders their capacity to
compete for this scuess.
Like Merton, everyone desires material success, not everyone has same
opportunity to achieve it. Lower class parents don’t have the economic
resources and the social power to assist their children (money for right
clothes, home in right neighborhood, capacity in this social capital, capacitu
to intercede correctly, etc. ) Baiscally the lower calss arehindered in that way.
They are not sending their kids to the best private schools, not getting into
best public universities.
Cohen believed that the lower and middle class parents socialize their kids
differently (important) middle class parents are more often rational,
deliberate, demanding, they stress self discipline in their children, they’re

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more likel to surround their kids with educational toys, lots of books, and
thye teach their children that love and acceptance is loved by discipline
earned and effort. By contrast, he said lower class parents are more easy
going, pretty permissive with their children. Less contact with books,
educational toys, fighting as a means of resolving problems was acceptable
He argued that vecause of this socialization process that differs by class, you
have a decreased ability to compete (if you’re from lower class) and this
produces strain. STRAIN THEORY
Cohen believed juxtaposition what child ist taught to want and what he can
actually achieve produces STRAIN in child. And he spent a lot of time talking
about schools (as middle class insitutions); designed to foster and grow
middle class children and values. (ie. If you studied long enough and hard
enough, get good grades at end of semester)
lower class kids don’t learn this then they are hindered
Cohen believed that ailure in school is accompanied by loss of status in the
sense of PERSONAL FAILURE because he believed that all these lower class
have a want for upward mobility and middle class stability)
So lower class embraces middle class values and ethics but socialization of
lower class kids hinders their activity to compete. And the decrease shows
strain (can’t live up to texpectations)
Increased strain is what causses some kids to gravitate to delinquent
subculture. It’s a solution for a problem (joining like minded feels, overcome
feeling of isolated and personal failure) basically most people adjust to strain
by joining others. Suggested 3 possible solutions to strain experienced by
these kids:
1. The Corner boy society
a. Lower class solution (ritualism)
i. These are kids who Cohen argues that they psychologically
disengage in competition. Withdraw into community of like
minded peers. Going to hang out with other lower class kids
and forget about achieveing big success
ii. These are kids who might get into minor scrapes with law,
but ultimately they will acquire limited education, a family,
and working class
b. College Boy
i. These kids rupture their ties with lower class. Except
channels of middle class and go on.
c. Delinquent Sub culture
i. Why it exists, what’s it content:
1. A whole bunch of different adjectives.. Malicious,
negativistic, non ultiarmins, hedonistic, malicious
versatile, group autonomy
ii. Why charactizsed this way?
1. Ordinary people steal something because they need
something. But lower class delinquent boys are non
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