Subcultural theories - explain deviance as behaviour or ideas that are produced in subcultures
and transmitted by learning
Whether they result from a collective resolution of strain, are simply a product of differential
history, or are defensive formations, subcultures often involve values and norms that are deviant
from the perspective of the wider culture.
Argot - subculture is frequently characterized by the use of an insider language.
-when subculture is an ethnic or an oppositional subculture, but also applies to such
mixed groups as the computer subculture (nerds, cyberpunks, hackers, etc).
-"leetspeak" - elite language used by gamers/hackers.
-the invention of words unique to the group is a sign of insider status and a way of
keeping unfriendly outsiders from knowing the group's business.
Vocabulary of motives - subculture may include justifications and excuses for behaviour that
serve to neutralize the demands of the dominant culture
-ex: "poacher" uses vocab that justifies the "folk crime" and leaves him or her with a
sense of being an accepted insider
Distinctive clothing and body language often mark subcultures.
-ex: gay community in the 1970s used an elaborate code of signals, colour-coded
handkerchiefs, when these markers were assimilated by fashion industry, new ones take place.
subcultures may be characterized by belief and norms that diverge from the mainstream.
subcultures are developed through repeated contacts and maintained in mutually supporting
-ex:countercultures - norms are mirror images of the cultural norms of the mainstream
Ethnic and racial subcultures
- to the exten that cultural differences are real, they can play a role in deviance
-stereotypes exaggerate cultural differences and treat whole groups as deviant
-ex: most recently, media attention has been given to Asian organized crime. In each
case, the stereotypes are poor representations of the real behaviour of most members of the
- furthermore, such stereotypes divert attention from the wrongdoings of people who are
not part of the targeted group and make it harder for those who have been targed to obtain a fair
-Elijah Anderson - began ethnographic study of the life of Black youths in inner-city
Philiadelphia; published severalworks that show how decent and street people alike learn to use
or be used by the "code of the streets". Abandoned by protective law enforcement, municipal
services, and decent jobs, they learn that credible violence is a way of demanding respect;
necessary for physical and psychological survival.
-street code comes with its own language, dress code, hierarchy, and rules for
-one of the objectives is to be impenetrable to outsiders, especially if those outsiders are
-may arise out of strain or the gathering together and segregation of large numbers of
young people in schools and leisure activities.
-In western societies, these subcultures share three common characteristics: (1) they
are based on leisure more often than on work or family; (2) they tend to be organized around the
peer group rather than around individual friends, family, or ethnic groups; and (3) they are usually focused more on style than on political or social ideology
-Brake divided youth cultures into four groups: respectable youth, delinquent youth,
cultural rebels, and politically militant youth. Respectable youth , involved in socially
approved activities, generally constitute a negative reference group for the other categories, but
there is a good deal of movement between some of the groups; ex - individual may participate
inGoth at some times and in other groups at other times. "Respectable" youth often participate in
activites such as "tagging" and "piecing" that express their subcultural identities.
punk - differences between english and canadian "punk" subcultures.
-England: appears to result from strain in the educational and employment systems
-Canada: takes two forms, the original generic punk rockers for whom punk is mainly a
fashion, and "gutter punks" who are basically street kids, living by dumpster diving, panhandling,
squatting, and washing windshields for spare change
straight-edgers - youth who call themselves sXs kids emerged in the 19802 within the punk
rock movent in the East Coast U.S.
-distinctive in its militant opposition to drug use and casual sex
graffiti - tagging and piercing. Tag is a claim to territory or dominance, and can lead to
intergroup violence. Piecing is an elite form of graffiti, the painting of large murals.
occupations such as prostitution, thieving, gambling, and drug trafficking all develop their own
subcultures, which are in part a reaction to the dominant respectable culture and in part
an expression of common problems and experiences that cannot be shared with
outsiders. prostitutes for example, within their subculture, may see their role as equal or
even superior to tha tof women who marry for money and security.
jokes that doctors, police, lawyers tell one another often reflect as a "them and us" dichotomy.
Among police - "blue wall of silence"
Mars - divideds occupations into hawk, donkey, wolf pack, and vulture types, each of which has
a distinctive ideology, set of attitudes, and view of the world.
-emphasizes that most of the deviance associated with each work type is not the
anarchic behaviour of "bad apples" but rather behaviour that is enforced by the workgroups
Lower-class gang subcultures
Walter Miller argues that male juvenile gangs are a by-product o the lower socioeconomic
class's core culture. He argues that the lower-class culture is unique in boasting a
"distinctive tradition many centuries old with an integrity of its own", characterize this
distinctive tradition by adressing six focal concerns: trouble, toughness, smartness,
excitement, fate, and autonomy
-trouble: individuals in the lower-class milieu are evaluated in terms of their actual and
potential involvement in troublemaking activity.
-toughness: in Miller's view, the lower class assigns great importance to physical
prowess, skill, fearlessness, and daring. Maintenance of the macho image may involve seemingly
irrational violence or intimidation of others. In this culture, women are treateed as objects of
-smartness: the kind of smartness valued by the lower-class culture is not academic
intelligence but rather street smarts, which includes the ability to control and manipulate others ..
-excitement: the fact t hat most lower-class work is exhausting, repetitive, and boring
puts a premium on thrill, risk taking, change, and action.
-fate: in contrast to the middle-class emphasis on planning for the future, lower-class
tend to see futue as matter of fortune and luck
-autonomy: lower-class subcultre express ambivalent feelings toward autonomy.
lower class youth who form delinquent gangs, adopt the focal concerns above as well as
belonging (concern about maintaining group membership in good standing), and status (concernabout being respected).
The Subculture of Violence
-variant of subcultural theme argues that rates of violent crime, particularly homocide, will be high
in regions where little value is given to human life and where the subculture sees many kinds of
behaviour as requiring a violent response
Wolfgang and Wolfgang and Ferracuti- use this regional values interpretation to explain a
continuing pattern that shows higher rates of homicide among visible minorities than
among Whites, and higher rates in some nations
otheres regard violence as an adaptive response: people who have experienced violence (war,
oppression) learn to be violent
Colburn - subculture of violence applied to particular sports. Example of fistfights in hockey are
in fact a part of cultural understandings that are shared by the players
Canadian Culture vs. U.S. Culture
The Transmission of Culture: Learning Theories
EdwinSutherland and Differential Association
-uses the concept of differential association to explain why some poeple become
criminals while others do not. what is differentially associated is not people but defintions.
defintions are normative meanings assigned to behaviour - define an action or pattern of action
as right or wrong - can be nonverbal expressions of approval or disapproval
differential association attempts to explain conformity as well as deviance: it explains how we
become who we are. Sutherland's theory of differential association:
1. criminal behaviour is learned. every criminal needs teachers
2. an individual learns criminality through interaction and communication with
others. criminality is learned from reading or viewing if it is backed up by interaction with people
who support its messages
3. the kind of interaction that matters most takes place within small, intimate
groups. differential association theory predicts that censor