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SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Social Order, Edwin Sutherland, Differential Association

Course Code

of 5
Lecture on Oct 24th
Subculture and Learning
Cohens theory of delinquency tries to explain
- The existence and content of delinquent sub-culture
- The concentration of this sub-culture among male working-class
Assumptions: somewhat similar to Mertons theory about social structure and
effect on individuals
- The lower-class resembles the middle-class culture and values by watching
TV, movies, etc. whatever middle-class has value on, in order to achieve
goals by success
- Socialisation of lower-class children deters their ability to compete for this
success, however, it is unequal world with different opportunities,
economics resources, and cultural capitals
- Difference between lower-class and middle-class parents in socialising their
children: Middle-class parents are more rational, deliberate, demanding,
stress self-discipline in their children, when Lower class parents are more
easy going, permissive with their children
- Strain caused by these socialisation difference between different classes
- Acknowledgement of their limitation caused strain in lower class children
- Even, Academic institutions, like school, promoting middle-class values,
which hindered lower-class students and forced them to learn about
middle-class values -> High advantages in middle-class kids compared to
lower-class kids -> causing strain
Cohen argued that increased strain affects some kids to fall into a delinquent
sub-culture (join gangs to overcome the fear of personal failure)
3 possible solutions to strain experienced by these kids.
- The Cornerville Society
o A lower-class solution, reminiscent of ritualism
Kids who Cohen argued that psychologically disengage from
competition and withdraw into a community of like-minded
Kids who might get into a few minor scrapes with the law
Will acquire a limited education and acquire a family, and
merge into the working-class
- College boys
o Kids who rupture their ties with the lower-class, accept the challenge
of the middle-class, and continue on
- Delinquent sub-culture
o Malicious, negativistic, non-utilitarian, hedonistic, versatile and
These adjectives were used to describe kids of the delinquent
Delinquent boys are not purposeful non-utilitarian graffiti
for example, kicking over garbage cans, throwing rocks, etc.
The hall-mark of the delinquent sub-culture is the explicit
and wholesale repudiation of middle-class culture and the
adoption of their very antithesis
It is glorified because it is a rejection of the middle-class, and
acts as compensation for these kids for their failures
**Different view by Cohen and Merton
Cohens innovator: non-utilitarian, who is put in a position of strain by rejecting
middle class value
Mertons innovator: utilitarian, who achieving the goods they want by illegal
Cohens theory: social structure produces strain, and it is the strain which
provide the motivation for delinquent behaviour
- Many young African-American males live in opposition to white and
middle-class values
o Lack of trust in mainstream institutions
o Espouse contempt of the system
o Drug trade offers economic opportunity and is organized around
the code of the street
o These illegal activities provide an alternative
- Although most of the kids in schools can become integrated, but the
street element dominates their heads
Learning Theory
Differential Association theory by Edwin Sutherland
- Suggested that some groups have positive social values when others have
negative social values
o If we have groups that promote deviance, its going to produce
higher rates crime, Cultural Transmission
- 2 Aspects that promote cultural transmission of deviance
o Degree to which cultural traditions promote non-conformity
o Extent to which its passed from one generation into the next