Theories of Criminology: 2650
Lecture March 6 and Tutorial Discussion
Theoretical roots and antecedents of subcultural criminology
Labelling theory Becker and Cohen
Post Modern Sensibility: Subcultural criminologists are interested in the origins of meaning. That
labels and categories are socially constructed. Various lifestyle choices dictate meaning as do
different cultures and regions.
Clifford Geertz's concept of culture Analysis of Semiotics
>We are all caught in the web of culture, webs are spun by the participants of certain area. It is
an ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves- Narratives. Culture gives our life and
our behaviour meaning.
1. Cultural deviance theory
2. Labelling theory: Becker and Cohen
1. Moral Panic: The media is implicated in defining the moral boundaries
within a society. They promote fear and anxiety in the general populous to
generate an underlying sense of crisis.
2. Deviance Application: Societal reaction increases the amount of deviance
within that society; it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy mechanism.
3. Postmodern sensibility: semiotics
4. Clifford Geertz’s conceptualization of culture; We are all caught in the web of culture,
webs are spun by the participants of certain area. It is an ensemble of stories we tell
ourselves about ourselves- Narratives. Culture gives our life and our behavior meaning.
Culture as web of significance that gives our life and our behaviours meaning
Ensemble of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves narratives
Focus on deviant youth subcultures: lifestyle choices
E.g. The ‘Chav’
-Focus on deviant youth subcultures and lifestyle choices. Important to study, they rebel
against social norms. E.g. the Chav (Britain) Young person, not educated or employed.
They have been associated gangs, subculture, and crime. Style choices; they wear
hoodies and track pants, labelled by what you wear. They engage in crime to combat
their boredom. Behaviors: Conspicuous consumerism (designer labels.) They are a
symbolized as delinquents and lawlessness (folk devils).
Examples of Subcultural Criminology Manifesto form-(From the reading.) Stakes out territory and specifies the terms of its
engagement. These subcultures develop in opposition to specific contextual factors. Positions
itself against administrative criminology.
>20th century- expansion of the Cjs and its surrounding institutions.
>Administrative favors a view from up high, and subcultures favors views from the bottom.
Standpoint theory: Standpoint refers to a place from which to see the world. People are
differentially situated depending on their social position and social situation. As such they may
know different things because they are positioned to see the world from a diff perspective.
>Objectivity does not exist, knowledge is always situated and partial.
>No mere reduction of knowledge to social position. Women have diff perspective than men, but
the knowledge of women is not homogenous or all the same.
>Knowledge is always situated; Implications
>Privileges a subjective approach of knowledge, experience is the root of knowledge,