The Formation of Subcultures and Social Control Theory

Respond to the paragraph bellow to include asking at least one direct question.

What factors contribute to the delinquency of the middle class and prompt their involvement in gang activity? First, it is important that we define what the middle class consists of. According to Keating (2014), the middle class is defined by annual income and social values. The annual income of a middle class family in 2014 was about $100,000 dollars (p 1). Some scholars argue that a good indicator of middle class status is the ability to buy a car. Individuals who belong to the middle class learn values such as self reliance, long term planning, respect for property, and good manners. Members of the middle class make enough money to survive and learn sustainable values. What would cause them to become delinquent, involved in criminal activity, or join a gang? One relevant theory I would like to discuss is Cohens theory of “corner boy, college boy, delinquent boy” (Adler, 2013, p 148).
“Corner boy, college boy, delinquent boy” is a theory that was developed by Albert Cohen, a studious man who has made several relevant claims about middle class delinquency. Cohen argues that young men of the lower and middle class fall into one of these three categories. Lower class boys become “corner boys” who are just trying to make the best out of a bad situation. “College boys” come from the middle class and are pursuant of goals fostered by the social and economic goals outlined by their class. “Deliquent boys” band together and form sub-culture groups that demand loyalty. These young men and women reject the ideals of the lower and middle class through a process known as “reaction formation” (Adler, 2013, p 148). They turn middle class ideals upside down. They justify the existence of their subculture by convincing themselves that the goals of their class are unattainable and not conforming to societal norms. Their behavior is right because it is wrong. They establish their own set of norms that may include violence, theft, or any other type of activity that could be considered gang-related by criminologists. This theory displays that subcultures can be created when individuals reject middle class values.
Additonally, it is important to consider Walter Millers theory (Adler, 2013, p 149). Miller argued that gang creation and formation is caused by lower classes conflict with the middle class. Cohen believed that sub-cultures were formed out of disdain for middle class values. Miller states that these cultures arise due to the core culture of the lower class. He states that 7 focal points of lower class culture foster a desire or need for gang involvement. Lower class males may be focused on trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, luck, and autonomy. These characteristics can lead citizens of the lower class into a fast paced, demanding environment where survival is necessary. Crime and gang life satisfies these traits. While Cohen and Millers theory differ, they must both be considered when assessing the middle classes role in subculture creation. Thank you for reading my post. Have a great week.

Works cited:
Adler, F., Mueller, G. O. W., & Laufer, W. S. (2013). Criminology (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Keating, J. (2014, June 12). Who is Middle Class? Retrieved February 18, 2016, from The State of the Universe: of middleclass


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