Functionalist Theories

Topics: Criminology, Gang, Crime Pages: 1 (294 words) Published: July 15, 2007
Cloward & Ohlin's
Differential Opportunity Theory

In 1959, Richard Cloward noted that Merton's anomie theory specified only one structure of opportunity. He, however, argued for two and not one. He thus proposed that there are also illegitimate avenues of structure, in addition to legitimate ones. In 1960 he and Lloyd Ohlin worked together and proposed a theory of delinquent gangs known as Differential Opportunity Theory. This theory, like Cohen's theory, combines the strain, differential association as well as the social disorganisation perspectives.

Delinquent subcultures, according to Cloward and Ohlin, flourish in the lower-classes and take particular forms so that the means for illegitimate success are no more equally distributed than the means for legitimate success.

They argue that the types of criminal subcultures that flourish depend on the area in which they develop. They propose three types of delinquent gangs. The first, the criminal gang, emerge in areas where conventional as well as non conventional values of behaviour are integrated by a close connection of illegitimate and legitimate businesses. This type of gang is stable than the ones to follow. Older criminals serve as role models and they teach necessary criminal skills to the youngsters. The second type, the conflict or violent gang, is non stable and non integrated, where there is an absence of criminal organisation resulting in instability. This gang aims to find a reputation for toughness and destructive violence. The third and final type, the retreatist gang, is equally unsuccessful in legitimate as well as illegitimate means. They are known as double failures, thus retreating into a world of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Cloward and Ohlin further state that the varying form of delinquent subcultures depended upon the degree of integration that was present in the community.
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