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Crime and Deviance - Cloward and Ohlin
Transcript of Crime and Deviance - Cloward and Ohlin
Cloward and Ohlin - three subcultures
The three subcultures
By examining access to and opportunity for entry into illegitimate opportunity structures, Cloward and Ohlin provided an explanation for different forms of deviance.
They began their explanation of working class delinquency from the same point as Merton: that is, there is greater pressure on members of the working class to deviate because they have less opportunity to succeed by legitimate means.
Cloward and Ohlin distinguished three possible responses to this situation: the 'criminal subculture', the 'conflict subculture' and the 'retreatist subculture'.
The development of one or other of these responses by young people depends on their access to, and performance in terms of, the illegitimate opportunity structure,
Deviance is shaped by illegitimate opportunity structures.
Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin, American Functionalists, agree with most of Merton's views but argued that he fails to explain the different forms that deviance takes.
For example, why do some gangs commit utilitarian crimes, such as theft whilst others commit crimes such as vandalism or assault?
Cloward and Ohlin argued that Merton only dealt with half of the picture. He had explained deviance in terms of the legitimate opportunity structure but he failed to consider the illegitimate opportunity structure.
In other words, just as the opportunity to be successful by legitimate means varies, so does the opportunity for success by illegitimate means.
Therefore - Clowan and Ohlin argue that the type of crime committed by young people depends on the type of:-
illegitimate opportunity structure
that is available to them in their area.
So - the illegitimate opportunities you have in your area will dictate what type of crime you may have the opportunities to commit or participate in.
These provide youths with an apprentice for a career in utilitarian crime. They arise only in those neighbourhoods where there is a longstanding and stable local criminal culture with an established hierarchy of professional adult crime. This allows the young to associate with adult criminals, who can select those with the right aptitudes and abilities and provide them with training and role models as well as opportunities for employment on the criminal career ladder.
Conflict subcultures – arise in areas of high population turnover. This results in high levels of social disorganisation and prevents a stable professional criminal network developing. Its absence means that the only illegitimate opportunities available are within loosely organised gangs. In these, violence provides a release for young men’s frustration at their blocked opportunities, as well as alternative source of status that they can earn by wining ‘turf’ from rival gangs.
In any neighbourhood, not everyone who aspires
to be a professional criminal or a gang leader actually succeeds – just as in the legitimate opportunity structure, not everyone gets a well paid job. What becomes of these ‘double failures’ – those who fail in both the legitimate and the illegitimate opportunity structures? According to Cloward and Ohlin, many turn to a Retreatist subculture based on illegal drug use.
Not everyone starts off with the same mainstream success goal. Miller (1962) argues that the lower class has its own independent subculture separate from mainstream culture, with its own values. This subculture does not value success in the first place, so its members are not frustrated by failure. Although Miller agrees deviance is widespread in the lower class, he argues that this arises out of an attempt to achieve their
not mainstream ones. He calls these goals 'focal concerns'.
Most young working class people experience status frustration but do not become delinquents.
Functionalists are very accepting of official statistics as valid.
Its too deterministic and over-predicts the extent of working class crime.
Although they provide different types of subcultures as the source of deviance (unlike Cohen), they draw the boundaries too sharply between different types. For example, South (1997) found that the drug trade is a mixture of both ‘disorganised’ crime, like the conflict subculture, and professional ‘mafia’ style criminal subcultures. Likewise, some supposedly ‘retreatist’ users are also professional dealers making a living from this utilitarian crime. In Cloward and Ohlin’s theory, it would not be possible to belong to more than one of these subcultures.
They also ignore the wider power structures, such as the people who make and enforces the law.