Delinquency work akers et als approach many modern

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delinquency work (Akers et al.'s approach). Many modern gang theories continue to reflect theseconcerns and have decidedly cultural and subcultural emphases. Much of Kornhauser's (1978)devastating (or "straw man") critique against social disorganization theory is aimed at theseoffshoots, and it may be worthwhile to examine Kornhauser's criticism in depth.Kornhauser's Critique of Subcultural TheoriesKornhauser (1978) classifies the major theories of criminal or delinquentsubcultures as either “pure cultural deviance theories” or “mixed models” ofdelinquency. Pure cultural deviance theories state that deviance is normative to theadherents of a delinquent subculture, that the root cause of delinquency lies inconflicting subcultures, and that the intervening cause of delinquency is socializationinto a subcultural value system that condones as “right” what happens to be defined bythe legal system as “wrong.” Other theoretical models of delinquency are not “pure”because they combine assumptions from cultural deviance theory and other analyticalmodels of delinquency, such as control theory or strain theory. That is, mixed modelsof delinquency assume that individuals are “selected for delinquency on the basis ofexperienced strain or weak controls,” but that delinquency will not ensue “without theendorsement of a delinquent subculture.”Kornhauser’s critique of pure cultural deviance theories and mixed models of
delinquency concerns the logical status of their underlying assumptions. According tothis critique, pure cultural deviance theories (namely differential association theory)are problematic in a logical sense because one can derive from them a set of incoherentassumptions that leave nothing left to explain. Arguably, mixed models of delinquencyare even more dubious. Not only do they contain a set of untenable assumptions fromwhich only absurdities can be derived, they are also internally inconsistent. Shaw &McKay's social disorganization theory is the running exemplar of this problem inKornhauser’s analysis. On the one hand, social disorganization theory holds that socialdisorganization produces weak institutional controls, which in turn loosen theconstraints on individuals’ natural propensity to deviate. Most proximally, delinquencyresults from weak social bonds. On the other hand, Shaw and his associates emphasize,especially in their later work, that delinquent youths’ denial of the moral validity of thelaws they violate explains their illegal behavior. In this sense, delinquency is assumedto require the endorsement of a delinquent subculture. This latter assumption,Kornhauser argues, is not necessary to make social disorganization theory work. Infact, it only confounds the logical structure of the theory, which can stand alone on theformer assumption that disorganization produces weak institutional controls, andthereby frees people to deviate. [from Kalkhoff, W. (2002). "Reviving the SubculturalApproach.”CONCENTRIC ZONE THEORY

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