criminal- ity are found in two levels which are thesubculture and the structural explanations. The sociological explanations emphasize aspects ofsocietal arrangements that are external to the actor and compelling.
A sociological explanation isconcerned with how the structure of a society or its institutional practices or its persisting culturalthemes affect the conduct of its members. Individual differences are denied or ignored, and theexplanation of the overall collective behavoir is sought in the patterning of social arrangements thatis considered to be both outside the actor and prior to him (Sampson, 1985). That is, the socialpatterns of power or of institutions which are held to be determinative of human action are alsoseen as having been in existence before any particular actor came on the scene. In lay language,sociological explanations of crime place the blame on something social that is prior to, external to,and compelling of any particular person. Sociological explanations do not deny the importance ofhuman motivation. However, they locate the source of motives outside the individual and in thecultural climate in which he lives.Order now
Political philosophers, sociologists, and athropologists have longobserved that a condition of social life is that not all things are allowed. Standards of behavior areboth a pro- duct of our living together and a requirement if social life is to be orderly. The conceptof a culture refers to the perceived standards of behavior, observable in both words and deeds, thatare learned, transmitted from generation to generation and somewhat durable. To call such behaviorcultural does not necessar- ily mean that it is refined, but rather means that it is cultured–aquired, cultivated, and persistent.
Social scientists have invented the notion of a subculture todescribe variations, within a society, upon its cultural themes. In such circumstances, it is assumedthat some cultural prescrip- tions are common to all members of society, but that modifica- tionsand variations are discernible within the society. Again, it is part of the definition of a subculture, asof a culture, that is relatively enduring. Its norms are termed a style, rather than a fashion, onthe grounds that the former has some endurance while the latter is evanescent. The quarrel comes,of course, when we try to estimate how real a cultural pattern is and how persistent.
Thestandards by which behavior is to be guided vary among men and over time. Its is in this changeand variety that crime is defined. An application of this principle to crimin- ology would find thatthe roots of the crime in the fact that groups have developed different standards of appropriatebehavior and that, in complex cultures, each individual is subject to competing prescriptions foraction. Another subcultural explanation of crime grows readily out of the fact that, as we have seen,social classes experience different rates of arrest and conviction for serious offenses. Whenstrata within a society are marked off by categories of income, education, and occupational prestige,differences are discovered among them in the amount and style of crime.
Further, differences areusually found between these social classes in their tastes, interests, and morals. Its is easy todescribe these class-linked patterns as cultures. This version of the subcultural explanation ofcrime holds that the very fact of learning the lessons of the subculture means that one aquiresinterests and preferences that place him in greater or lesser risk of breaking the law. Others arguethat being reared in the lower class means learning a different culture from that which creates thecriminal laws.
The lower- class subculture is said to have its own values, many of which runcounter to the majority interests that support the laws against the serious predatory crimes. Oneneeds to note that the indicators of class are not descriptions of class. Proponents of subculturalexplanations of crime do not define a class culture by any assortment of the objective indicators orrank, such as annual income or years of schooling. The subcultural theorists is interested inpattern- ed ways of life which may have evolved with a division of labor and which, then, are calledclass cultures. The pattern, however, is not described by reference to income alone, or byreference to years of schooling or occupational skill.
The pattern includes these indicators, but it isnot defined by them. The subcultural theorist is more intent upon the variet- ies .