At the time of Edwin H. Sutherland’s work, social structure theories – social disorganization and strain – were prevalent. However, Sutherland asserted that delinquent behavior is a function of learning and not a function of either the ability to obtain economic success or of living in a socially disorganized area of a city. He made formal propositions that demonstrate that social interaction and learning lead to delinquency. 1. Crime behavior is learned. 2. Criminal behavior is learned in interaction with other persons in a process of communication. . The principle part of the learning of criminal behavior occurs with intimate personal groups. 4. When criminal behavior is learned, the learning includes techniques of committing the crime, specific directions of motives, drives, rationalizations, and attitudes. 5. The specific directions of motives and drives are learned from definitions of the legal codes as favorable or unfavorable. 6. A person becomes delinquent because of an excess of definitions favorable to violation of the law over definitions unfavorable to violation of the law.
7. Differential associations may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity. 8. The process of learning criminal behavior by association with criminal and anti-criminal patterns involves all of the mechanisms that are involved in any other learning. 9. While criminal behavior is an expression of general needs and values, it is not explained by those general needs and values, since noncriminal behavior is an expression of the same needs and values. . (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 130-131) Subculture Theory A subculture is a set of values, norms, and beliefs that differs from those within the dominant culture.
According to subculture theory, delinquent youth hold values, norms, and beliefs in opposition to those held in the dominant culture. Therefore, youths who behave in a manner that is consistent with the values, norms, and beliefs of their subculture will often be in conflict with the law. Three subculture theories are: Cohen’s delinquency and frustration theory, Cloward and Ohlin’s differential opportunity theory, and Miller’s lower-class focal concern theory. . (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 125) Cohen’s Delinquency and Frustration Theory
Believes that individuals from the lower class had different values, norms, and beliefs than those held by the middle class. Despite this, Cohen argued that the goal of lower-class youths is middle-class membership. However, lower-class youths face developmental handicaps that place them at a disadvantage in obtaining their goal of middle-class membership. . (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 125) Cloward and Ohlin’s Differential Opportunity Theory Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin focused on serious delinquency committed by urban, male gang members.
They asserted that two goals pursued by lower-class youth were economic success and/or middle-class membership. Youths who had little ability to achieve these goals through legitimate means would form delinquent subcultures/gangs in an effort to obtain the goals. . (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 126-127) Miller’s Lower-Class Focal Concerns Theory Walter B. Miller was an anthropologist who studied the lower-class areas of Boston in 1955 and formulated his lower-class focal concerns theory based on his field observations. Miller’s basic tenet was that society is composed of various social groups, each with its distinctive subculture.
For example, he recognized that delinquency may occur because youths are following certain norms and values of the lower-class, which puts them in violation of the law. He also examined factors that contribute to gang formation and delinquency. Miller identified six focal concerns that describe six values of a lower-class subculture. These focal concerns differentiate the lower class from the middle and upper classes. 1. Trouble – value by which people are evaluated on the basis of their involvement in trouble-making activity.
2. Toughness – value of physical strength, fighting ability, and masculinity. 3. Smartness – value of the ability to be streetwise and to con people. 4. Excitement – value of thrill-seeking through gambling, fighting, and getting intoxicated. 5. Fate – value or belief that most things that happen to people are beyond their control. 6. Autonomy – value of personal freedom resulting in an active disdain of authority. (. (Taylor, Fritsch 2011, p 128-129) Taylor, R. , Fritsch, E. (2011) Juvenile Justice Policies, Programs, and Practices, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.