The Usefulness of Sub-Cultural Theories in Understanding Crime and Deviance

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I am going to be assessing the usefulness of sub cultural theories in understanding crime and deviance. The functionalist suggested that understanding deviance lies in the studying it function for society rather than the individual itself. Also consensus is essential for society to function. All functionalist therefore argues that forms of social control are necessary to check deviant and to maintain social order.

Merton theory of anomie is based on the ideas of the functionalist. Anomie encourages deviance. Merton understood crime and deviance to be a response to the inability to achieve social goals. This is often referred to as a strain theory of crime, since Merton highlighted a
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Innovation accepts societal goals but have few legitimate means to achieve those goals, thus they innovate (design) their own means to get ahead. The means to get ahead may be through robbery, embezzlement or other such criminal acts. In Ritualism, the third adaptation, individuals abandon the goals they once believed to be within their reach and dedicate themselves to their current lifestyle. They play by the rules and have a daily safe routine.

Retreatism is the adaptation of those who give up not only the goals but also the means. They often retreat into the world of alcoholism and drug addiction. They escape into a non-productive, non-striving lifestyle. The final adaptation.

Rebellion occurs when the cultural goals and the legitimate means are rejected. Individuals create their own goals and their own means, by protest or revolutionary activity.

Merton was highly critical of competitive and ambitious social values in western society suggesting that competition and greed encourages people to break the law.

The critics of Merton theory is that some say that it neglect the power relation in the whole of the society Laurie Taylor suggest the Merton theory failed to explain who creates the rules in the first place, and in whose interests these rules and values have been developed by the powerful to guarantee success. By focusing on the actions of
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