Classical Subcultural Theories of Crime & Deviance

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][Classical Subcultural Theories of Crime & Deviance]

    • 00:11

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE: Hello.My name is Robert Donald Weide, and I'mthe professor of criminology in the Department of Sociologyhere at California State University, LosAngeles. [Robert Donald Weide, PhD, Professor, Departmentof Sociology, California State University, Los Angeles]In this presentation, I'll be discussingclassical subcultural theories of crime and delinquency.I'll be covering the following classical theoristsand their work on the role of subcultures in generating crimeand delinquency.

    • 00:33

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: First I'll be discussing Albert Cohen's conception of the youthstreet gang as an oppositional delinquent subculture.Second I'll be discussing Walter Miller's conceptionof lower class culture as a cause of crime and delinquency.Finally I'll be discussing Edwin Sutherland and Donald Cressey'stheory of differential association.It's important to understand classical subcultural theories

    • 00:55

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: of crime and deviance in order to havea foundation for understanding criminological perspectiveson the role of subculture in criminal behavior.[Albert Cohen-- Oppositional Subcultures & Crime]First let's start with Albert Cohen.In opposition to the more reactionary theoryof social disorganization, Albert Cohen

    • 01:17

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: offered his theory of oppositional subcultures, whichposits that deviant behavior is the resultof juvenile involvement in deviant subcultureswhose values are the exact oppositeof conventional values.According to Cohen, deviant subculturesare nonutilitarian, malicious, and negativistic.For example, young people might break a mailbox

    • 01:39

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: or steal something that is not needed and servesno functional purpose.What could explain why young people do such things?It's not because they're trying to fulfill some needor some desire that they need.The only desire they have is to dosomething that's bad just for the sake of doing somethingthat's bad.According to Cohen, this fulfills his categorization

    • 02:01

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: of crime as being nonutilitarian, malicious,and negativistic.The subcultures of deviance are governed by short-run hedonism,which Cohen describes as a focus on the satisfactionof immediate concerns, and group autonomy, which Cohen suggestsis an aversion to conventional values

    • 02:22

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: and any source of authority that would seek to enforce morality.Cohen suggests that oppositional subcultures are primarilyfound in the male working class sectorof the juvenile population.This is because this is the strata of society whereconventional values and the means to attain themare not available.

    • 02:43

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: Therefore it makes perfect sense that peoplewho come from these communities should develop subculturesof their own that have values that they can live up to.[Walter Miller-- Lower Class Culture & Crime]The next theorist I'll discuss is Walter Miller.

    • 03:03

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: In contrast to Cohen, Walter Millersuggests that deviant values are not necessarilythe opposite of conventional values.They are merely a completely different set of values,not necessarily in opposition to conventional values.Miller identifies six focal concernsof lower class culture that lead to involvementin crime and delinquency.

    • 03:25

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: The first he identifies is trouble.This refers to lower class preferencesfor staying out of trouble, as in, people from lower classcommunities who are able to commit crimes and engagein deviant behavior without being caught, without gettingin trouble for it are people who enjoy a high status in lowerclass communities, according to Walter Miller.

    • 03:46

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: Second is toughness.According to Miller, the most desirable traitsin lower class communities are physical traits,such as physical prowess, masculinity,bravery, and daring.And consequently, undesirable traitsinclude weakness, ineptitude, effeminacy, timidity,

    • 04:07

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: cowardice, and caution.The next trait that Walter Miller identifies is smartness.This refers not to book smartnessbut to street smarts, which he defines as the abilityto outsmart others and to avoid being conned or manipulated.Someone who's able to con and manipulateother people while avoiding being conned

    • 04:27

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: and manipulated himself is someonethat has a very high status in lower class communities,according to Walter Miller.Next is excitement.According to Walter Miller, lower class communitiesare typified by an incessant desireto seek thrills, risk danger, and have a constant changeof activity, whereas boredom, monotony, security,

    • 04:49

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: and passivity are considered undesirable.Next is fate.Walter Miller describes fate as being simply having good luck.Someone who has good luck in a lower class communityis considered someone of high status,whereas someone who has poor luckis considered to have low status.

    • 05:09

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: And finally, autonomy.Walter Miller defines this trait as the desireto be independent and free of any external constraintor authority.[Edwin Sutherland & Donald Cressey-- DifferentialAssociation]Finally I'll conclude with discussingthe theory of differential association, presented

    • 05:30

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: by Sutherland and Cressey.Sutherland and Cressey suggest that criminalityis due to young people associatingwith criminal subcultures and the people involvedin them rather than any inherent qualities of criminalsthemselves.Sutherland and Cressey present nine principlesof differential association.

    • 05:51

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: The first is that crime is learned.Second is that this learning occursthrough interaction and communicationwith other persons.Third, this learning occurs primarilywithin intimate personal groups.Fourth, the learning of criminal behaviorconsists of both the specific techniques required

    • 06:12

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: to commit crimes and the motivations,rationalization, and attitudes that coincidewith the criminal lifestyle.Next, the specific direction of motivesis determined by the learning of perceptions of legal codesas either favorable or unfavorable.Next, Sutherland and Cressey suggestthat criminality occurs primarily

    • 06:34

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: where perceptions of legal codes havebeen learned as unfavorable rather than favorable.Where people have unfavorable views of the law,they are more likely to violate the law.According to Sutherland and Cressey,differential associations vary in frequency, duration,priority, and intensity.A good way to think about it is in terms of a scale--

    • 06:56

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: a simple scale that weighs from one side to the other.At some times in our lives, we have a very strong respectfor the law, and so our impressionof the law as favorable outweighs our impressionof the law as unfavorable.During these times in our lives, we tend not to commit crimes.However, at other times in our lives-- for most people,in their teens and 20s-- our view of the law as unfavorable

    • 07:20

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: tends to outbalance our view of the law as favorable.It's during these times of our livesthat we're more likely to commit crimes that violate the law.And likewise, as we get older, our balance can shift again,and we can once again find ourselveshaving a favorable view of the law and ourselvesless likely to commit crime.According to Sutherland and Cressey,

    • 07:42

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: the learning of criminal behavioroccurs through the same process of learningany other type of behavior.Finally Sutherland and Cressey suggest that criminal behavioris motivated by the same needs and valuesas noncriminal behavior.Therefore engaging in criminal behavioris not necessarily a permanent condition,and it can fluctuate throughout the lives of individuals

    • 08:03

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: as their perceptions of legal codesvary from favorable to unfavorable at different pointsin their lives.For further reading, please look up the following sources--Albert Cohen's book Delinquent Boys,Walter Miller's article "Lower class culture as a generatingmilieu of gang delinquency," and finally Edwin Sutherland

    • 08:25

      DR. ROBERT WEIDE [continued]: and Donald Cressey's article "A theoryof differential association."[MUSIC PLAYING]

Classical Subcultural Theories of Crime & Deviance

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Abstract

Professor Robert Weide presents an analysis of criminal subculture theories. He discusses the key points of each theory and explains how one differs from the other.

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Classical Subcultural Theories of Crime & Deviance

Professor Robert Weide presents an analysis of criminal subculture theories. He discusses the key points of each theory and explains how one differs from the other.

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