Analyse two ways in which deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals (10)

How to get full marks for a 10 mark ‘item’ question in sociology A-level.

Last Updated on August 11, 2021 by Karl Thompson

Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to a 10 mark ‘analyse with the item question’ which achieved a top band-mark, 10/10 in fact!

For general hints and tips on how to answer all questions across paper three please click h

The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).

The Question with Item 

crime deviance 10 mark question.png

The Mark Scheme (top band only)


Student Response:

Point one

One way deviant subcultures may respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals is by offering alternative ways of attaining success. Cohen found that working class boys often felt a strain to achieve in the middle class education system.

This is because the education system did not offer them equal chance of attaining mainstream goals (item A) because it not have the same norms as them and the boys experienced a culture clash.

As a result the boys responded by creating a subculture which revolved around an alternative status hierarchy, valuing hostility and spite, rewarding behavior mainstream society condemned.

They wanted the same goals as the middle class: status and success but their inability to attain so led them to achieving status from their peers through truanting and vandalism.

This means that deviant subcultures look for different ways to attain mainstream goals when the opportunities to do so are taken from them. However, Cohen is criticized for assuming that the working class boys all had the same shared goals: not all of them considered themselves a failure.

Point two

Cloward and Ohlin argue that not all deviant subcultures respond to the difficulties of achieving mainstream goals in the same way. They argue that the neighbourhood a person lives in creates different types of subculture in response to attaining goals.

Unstable neighbourhoods (item A) can reproduce criminal subcultures, creating an apprenticeship for crime and allowing people to socialise with adult criminals, meaning that children turn to utilitarian crime such as theft to achieve consumerist goals.

On the other hand, deprived neighbourhoods create conflict subcultures where high rates of unemployment and social disintegration mean people turn towards non utilitarian crime due to frustration. This means people turn to crime out of frustration, not to gain status.

However, this is deterministic, as not all people from deprived neighbourhoods turn to crime.

Examiner Commentary:

Mark: 10/10

crime deviance 10 mark question comments

KT’s commentary:

  • This looks like overkill to me, I would have thought this is easily 10/10!
  • Note that you can still achieve full marks while referring to dated sociology!


Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/3 Crime and Deviance with Theory and Methods
Published: Autumn 2017

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from ReviseSociology

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading