A subculture is a cultural subgroup. They are considered opposite from the mainstream culture because of their uniqueness. They form when the mainstream culture fails to meet the needs of a particular group of people. Subculture theories primarily focus on crime and Juvenile delinquency. Theorists believe that if this pattern of offending can be understood and controlled then it will break the transition from teenage offender into habitual criminal. Some of the theories which will be discussed today are developed from functionalism assuming that criminal activity is motivated by economic needs, while other theorists argue a social class rationale for deviance.
Marxist attempted to put a new approach in order concerning sub cultural theories. This approach, which was named the ‘new criminology’, puts a much greater emphasis on the perceptions of the deviants, and of those who directly confront the deviant and specific context in which the deviant act occurs. The focus of concern is not of traditional Marxism on how powerful groups create law, but more to do with the law enforcement, patterns of law breaking and the motives of crime. The new Marxist approach on subcultural issue stresses on two factors. 1. The contents of youth culture
2. The differences produced by class background.
From a Marxist perspective Crime and deviance can only be understood in terms of capitalism and class struggle. Marxist believes that Capitalism creates inequalities, which lead to conflict. Greed, selfishness and want are associated with capitalism, and it is these in which lead people to committing crime. In a capitalist society there are pressures to break the law, which affect people from all sections of society from the wealthiest to the poor. Crimes are often motivated by financial gain, Marxist also agreed with just what Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin argued, by agreeing that yes there are also crimes which are committed which are mot motivated by financial gain, which were called non-utilitian crimes. Again these crimes can be seen as expressions of the frustration and aggression, which the capitalist society produces. Marxists claims that there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor in society. Marxists believe the law is enforced systemically, and it is biased in favour of those who are on top. Corporate crime costs society much more than benefit fraud committed by the lower class in society, but yet it is those who are at the bottom of society who are targeted more. The police would target the working class more as they often commit crime, which is easily visible, and therefore they are easier to prosecute. .
Albert Cohen theory found that certain groups within society react by resorting to crime in order to achieve success. In order to gain a status and that they are motivated to commit these crimes through status frustration. Cohen was one of the first American sociologists to study subcultures and gangs amongst young working class males. Cohen analyzed the motivations of working class youths and the explanations in which could explain why they committed crimes. He accepted that these youths also pursued the success goals of mainstream society, but were unable to achieve those goals because of educational failure, which in turn led to low-level jobs. Such failure was due to their position in the social structure of society. Cultural deprivation is the reason for educational failure of members of the working class. In 1955 Cohen said “throughout there is a kind of malice apparent, an employment at the discomfort of others and a delight in the defiance of taboos” What Cohen meant by this was that youths in a delinquent subculture take pleasure in other peoples disapproval and suffering as a result of their deviant behavior. Activities such as stealing,...