Subculture and Social learning theories of deviance
Culture: is all the things you need to know to be a member
Subculture and social learning theories...
• Explain deviance as “behaviour or ideas that are produced in subcultures and are transmitted
• You can learn conformity you can learn deviance
• Subcultures are groups of people who reject in many ways the influence and norms of the
• Examples of subcultures: Hippies, hells angels, punks, amish, vegetarians, yarn bombers.
In terms of deviance
• subcultures often involve values and norms that are deviant from the perspective of the wider
(Deadhead – followed grateful dead around on country on tour)Alot of tie die, whipits, camping in
cornfield, LSD, shrooms)
1) Argot – subcultures have their own language. Insider language. It is a way to keep outsiders out
and keep group cohesion. (Deadheads, Miracle: what they needed to get to get to the next show,
miracle ticket, miracle ride.At every show there would be vendors that set up shakedown street
– they would make money to get to the next show. Shakedown street song. Deadheads made it
into a tangible place)
2) Vocabularies of motives: Justifications people use to neutralize the demands of the dominate
culture. (Deadheads: reject capitalism. Do not want to work for the man.) (gang members
behaviour justified by the idea that it is heroic, or brave. It is the excuse of their behaviour)
3) Clothing and body language: you can identify members by clothing etc (deadheads: pick them
out by the way they danced, and their tie-dyed shirts.) (Think of way a thug walks versus
banker) (symbols too)
4) Beliefs and norms: often diverge from mainstream cultures. Not always and not 100%. They
can vary. Not all members have the same ones. (Example Vegetarians do not believe in eating
5) Mutually supporting networks: they are developed over repeat contacts. Maintained through
mutually supported networks. Hard to “cure” someone whose deviance comes from a
subculture. - you rely on those members for support. You are not going to give them up to seek
support from someone else.
Blaming Subcultures and Stereotyping
• Stereotyping exaggerates cultural differences and treat whole groups as deviants
• In most cases, the stereotypes are poor representations of the real behaviour of most members of
• This can and does impede on the notion of a fair hearing.
(Learning Theory) – Edwin Sutherland
– (prof says it would have been better called definitional association)
– Question why do some people become deviants and some not? - Sutherland says that it is
– You can learn deviance in the same way you learn conformity
– it all depends on who you are exposed to. You significant others.
– If you grow up in a family that says cheating on taxes is normal means you may grow up and
believe that too.
– Does not have to be verbal. It can be based on body language.
– About associating definitions to deviance.
Subculture and learning theory are the same thing.
Why do one of them become deviant when one does not if you come from the same family?
– deviance is learned – socialized by family and peer group. We also learn social conformity.
– Edwin sutherland says deviant is a learned behaviour the same as conformity. It is not different
learning you might just be learning the wrong thing.
– Ediwn sutherland is from the chicago school.
– He argues it is not a social pathology, or sick people, or genetic. He says that it is a normal part
of being a member pf a subculture where there are “excessive definitions favourable to
violations of the law”
– on one side of the scale – the ends justify the means, get one over on others.... sale is in the text
– if you are exposed to more definitions to breaking the law the scale tips toward deviant
– Definition: are normative meanings assigned to behaviour. - we have in our culture a similar
understanding of deviance.
– Definitions: they define an action or pattern of actions as either right or wrong...
– Definitions of behaviour define an act!!!
Favourable to actions that violate the law
Unfavourable to actions that violate the law
and they can also come in the form of non-verbal expressions of approval or disapproval. Example
moms stink eye. It does not have to be about your own behaviour. - you can see expressions in regard
to other people/ peoples action.
Most of us are exposed to both kinds of definitions. It is about how often.And who is giving the
For example: don't do drugs they are bad, hey man did you try that what a trip. Depends on who is
giving the message. People often justify unfair behaviour – though we are also told to be fair
individuals. We admire vigilantes but are told to respect authority.
We are shaped by the preponderance (how often we are exposed) of one or the other kinds of
definitions in our lives.
– prof gives example of speeding, booze smuggling