Cohen, Albert K. (1915–)

ALBERT COHEN is a criminologist who studied delinquent gangs and the subculture of workingclass boys. In 1955, he published Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang. In this influential book, he argued that the norms and values of a delinquent subculture encourage and condone delinquent behavior.

Criminal behavior, according to Cohen, was not acceptable to the dominant culture. The delinquent subcultures that arose in poor, urban environments were rooted in class differences, parental aspirations, and the quality of schools. Groups of boys, frustrated with their apparently low position in society, would begin to act in ways that were rewarded by their own peer group. Crime or gang participation was a rebellion against middle-class standards. Through a process known as reaction formation, those who became delinquent could ...

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