Download e-book for iPad: Criminology for Social Work by David Smith (auth.)

By David Smith (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333587510

ISBN-13: 9780333587515

ISBN-10: 1349239011

ISBN-13: 9781349239016

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The problem has been that cultural deviance theory has tended to be too ambitious and monolithic in its claim that crime can be explained by the existence of a subculture whose values are antithetical to those of the dominant culture. For example, Miller's (1958) identification of lowerworking-class 'focal concerns' as trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, fate and autonomy has not been supported by subsequent research, and, as Matza and Sykes (1961) noted, there is nothing peculiar to the lower working class, or to delinquents, about these values anyway.

Albert Cohen (1955), for example, attempted to account for what he saw as the characteristic features of the delinquency of male working-class youth in terms of the 'status frustration' they experienced in the education system. In Cohen's account, the school successfully induced working class boys to accept the dominant cultural definitions of success and then denied them legitimate access to them, since in a competitive education system there have to be losers as well as winners. Cohen used the psychoanalytic term 'reaction formation' to describe the response to this anomie strain: these initially conforming delinquent boys reacted by going to the other extreme, and adopted values which were as far from those of the dominant culture as they could find.

Young people who are strongly attached to their parents or to their school, or who have high educational and occupational aspirations, are less likely to commit crime; young people who do poorly at school, or have friends who are criminals, are more likely to do so. People who believe strongly in the importance of law-abiding behaviour are more likely to practise it. Social and economic subordination and oppression are associated with an increased likelihood of committing the kind of crime with which the criminal justice system predominantly deals - excluding, that is, those crimes which the poor have less opportunity to commit.

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Criminology for Social Work by David Smith (auth.)


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