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May 11, 2018 / C H Thompson

Social-class and crime – revision notes with evaluation

The explanations into the issue of age, social class and crime can be linked back to the subcultural theorists previously discussed, as they discuss the issue in greater depth. For example:

Albert Cohen

  • The working class youth are the most likely to commit crime.
  • They have the same goals as the mainstream culture, yet their failure and bad chances in the market mean that they are unable to achieve those goals, and this leads to them experiencing status frustration.


  • Miller argues that the statistics reflect the working-class subcultures that often see crime as a reward or approved activity.
  • The lower classes tend to create their own different value system. They never actually approved the mainstream goals that Cohen talks about.
  • Therefore they create their own goals, and Miller named theses focal concerns.


  • Young males tend to commit crime for the pleasure or the thrill that is derived from the risk of being caught or having a power over others.

Interactionists such as Becker

  • Becker argues that an act only becomes deviant when labelled as such, and even then labels are only applied to certain criminal acts and groups.
  • Social stereotypes suggesting that young people commit the most crime leads to the police suspecting and monitoring young people more so than older people, which in turn increases their chances of being caught.

Other theorists to write about on a question about age, social class and crime would be Hirchi (social bonds) or Matza (techniques of neutralisation).

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