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May 9, 2018 / C H Thompson

Subcultural theories of crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Overall evaluation of subcultural perspectives of crime

(-) Most of the research is based on statistics, which interpretivists would say that the findings are therefore invalid.

(-) Matza (1964) -> said that much of the research into gangs is deterministic as it implies that once someone is in a gang they are unable to escape, which is therefore ignoring free will.

  • Matza instead came up with the theory of delinquency and drift,
  • arguing that many people drift in and out of criminal activity rather than staying committed to a particular criminal subculture.
  • Delinquents use techniques of neutralisation to justify their behaviour:
  1. Denial of responsibility – where the culprit behavior owns-up to doing wrong, but claims they had no choice—”he made me” excuse
  2. Denial of injury – culprit acknowledges doing the wrong action, but argues nobody was harmed, so what’s the problem
  3. Blaming the victim – acknowledging people were hurt by our actions, but it was the victim’s fault because they deserved it
  4. Condemn the condemners – where people abdicate responsibility onto those blaming them
  5. Appealing to a higher loyalty – where, for example, a gang member might claim their criminal act was undertaken because of their loyalty to their gang
  • and Matza suggests that most young people do express guilt for their actions showing that they do hold some mainstream values.
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