Good Resources to explore further
Useful Sources for learning about Subcultural Theory
In addition to your text book and main in-class hand-out, the following resources are especially useful:
Research studies and case studies to evaluate the relevance of Subcultural Theories of Deviance
To my mind – it’s worth focussing on two things to evaluate subcultural theories (I) are subcultures really set apart from the rest of society like subcultural theorists suggest and (II) does membership of subcultures encourage deviance as much as the above theories suggest?
- This Official Report by the Home Office suggests there are 4500 gang members in London.
- GangsLine argues that there are 15 000 gang members in London and 35 000 across the UK.
- There has also been a recent 23% increase in gang related crime in London – suggesting support for the continued relevance of Subcultural Theory.
- There are numerous documentaries which suggests gangs globally form distinct subcultures which encourage deviance.
- However, back to the UK – This (2016) in-depth ethnographic research in Glasgow suggests that gangs are more fluid and not as violent as you might think (it also criticises David Cameron’s view that the London Riots were mainly caused by gangs.)
- This (2015) documentary on Football Hooliganism shows that most hooligans have full-time jobs, and so this isn’t a subculture because it’s embedded in mainstream society.
- Documentaries such as Benefits Street suggest that there is a distinct underclass which is more criminal than mainstream society, but…
- This research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests the Underclass doesn’t actually exist!
In addition to your text book and main in-class hand-out, the following resources are especially useful for enhancing your knowledge and understanding of Functionalism and Strain Theory, and for evaluating these theories of crime and deviance.
Easy research studies and case studies to evaluate the relevance of Functionalism and Strain Theory
Read through/ watch the articles and case studies below – consider the extent to which they either support or criticise the above theories.
- September 11th brought us together – but was it unity? – Seems to support Functionalism
- London Riots – Hundreds answer the appeal to clean up the streets – Seems to support Functionalism
- Stoned Moms – A Vice documentary about the legalisation of Cannabis in Colorado – You could use to criticise Durkheim’s idea that ‘deviance is the morality of the future’ – is this really positive? (of course you might think it is!)
- The idea of the American Dream has changed greatly (Young Turks Video) – Criticises Merton’s Strain Theory
How to evaluate the above theories (thoroughly!)
The above examples are just the ones KT thinks are especially applicable to Functionalism and Strain Theory, to further evaluate these theories you need to consider the following:
- Supporting Evidence: Crimes this theory can explain – Is there any statistical evidence or case study* evidence which supports this theory?
- Criticising evidence: Crimes this theory cannot explain – Is there any statistical evidence or case study evidence which criticises this theory?
- Evaluate using other perspectives – What does the theory under investigation ignore according to….
- Consensus theories
- Realist Criminology
- Historical evaluation – Has society changed so much that the theory is just no longer relevant?
- Evaluate in terms of ideology/ power – Is the theory biased, does it serve the powerful?
Types of crime and evidence you could apply to each perspective when evaluating!
|Types of Crime to consider
- Serious Violent Crime, Terrorism, Anti-Social Behaviour
- Burglary, Theft, Fraud, Drug possession
- Hidden crimes: DV, elite crimes
- Global crimes: cybercrime/ state crime/ green crime
|Evidence to consider
- Official Stats: Police Recorded Crime / CSEW
- Specific sociological research studies – e.g. Venkatesh.
- Any case studies
For example, if you apply hidden crimes like Domestic Violence and Fraud to Functionalism, their existence criticises this theory – if people aren’t being punished for these crimes (which they generally aren’t) then they can’t be performing positive functions!
A template I use to get students to evaluate the various perspectives on crime and deviance – it should work well for consensus theories such as Functionalism and Conflict Theories such as Marxism, but might be more difficult to complete for later postmodern theories…
Types of Crime to consider
Serious Violent Crime, Terrorism, Anti-Social Behaviour
Burglary, Theft, Fraud, Drug possession
Hidden crimes: DV, elite crimes
Global crimes: cybercrime/ state crime/ green crime
Evidence to consider
Supporting Evidence: Crimes this theory can explain
Is there any statistical evidence or case study* evidence which supports this theory?
Criticising evidence: Crimes this theory cannot explain
Is there any statistical evidence or case study evidence which criticises this theory?
Evaluate using other perspectives
What does the theory under investigation ignore?
Has society changed so much that the theory is just no longer relevant?
Evaluate in terms of ideology/ power
Is the theory biased, does it serve the powerful?
Out of 10 – How Useful is ___________________ Theory in helping us understand crime and deviance in contemporary society?
Key concepts – You need to be able to define the following key concepts, explain how they are related to class and educational achievement, and asses their relative importance in explaining ethnic differences in educational achievement
Key research studies
Steve Strand – the Longitudinal study
Crozier – some Asian parents keep their distance
David Gilborn – teacher labelling
Cecile Wright – teacher labelling
Mac An Ghail – pupil subcultures
Tony Sewell – pupil subcultures
Gilborn and Youdell – the A-C economy
Sample short answer questions
Suggest three home based cultural factors which may account for why Chinese and Indian children outperform other ethnic groups (6)
Suggest three ways in which the school curriculum may be said to be ethnocentric (6)
Suggest two criticisms of labeling theory (4)
Sample essay questions
|Main Sub Topics
|· Gender and Differential Educational Achievement.
· Why are girls outperforming boys?
· Why are boys ‘underachieving’ compared to girls?
· Gender and Subject Choice
· Why do girls and boys choose different subjects?
· The extent to which processes within school reinforce traditional masculine and feminine ‘gender identities’
Selected Concepts you Need to Know
- The gender gap
- Service sector
- Primary socialisation
- Crisis of masculinity
- Feminisation of education
- Gendered subject domains
- Male gaze
- Gender stereotyping
- Ladette culture
- Anti-school subculture
- Pro school subculture
- Verbal abuse
- Gender identity
Selected Short Answer Questions
- Define the term ‘crisis of masculinity’ (2)
- Using one example explain how traditional gender-identities might be reinforced within education (2)
- Outline three in-school factors which might influence the subjects which girls and boys choose (6)
- Outline and briefly explain how two external factors have resulted in girls outperforming boys’ in education (10)
|Possible (QUITE NASTY) Essay Questions
|Assess the argument that the feminisation of education is main reason for male underachievement in education (20)
Assess the view that the gender gap in education has been over exaggerated (20)
- Intro – How achievement varies by social class background
- Material deprivation and educational achievement.
- Cultural deprivation theory and educational achievement
- Cultural capital theory and educational achievement
- In school processes and how these effect achievement
- How education policies affect educational achievement by social class
Selected Key Concepts
- Social Class
- Educational Attainment
- Cultural Deprivation
- Immediate Gratification
- Deferred Gratification
- Elaborated Speech Code
- Restricted Speech Code
- Material Deprivation
- Social Capital
- Material Capital
- The Ideal Pupil
- Counter School Culture
- Compensatory Education
Selected Short Answer Questions
- Define what is meant by the term ‘material deprivation’ (2)
- Using one example explain how cultural deprivation effects educational achievement (2)
- Outline three ways in which material deprivation can affect educational achievement (6)
- Outline and briefly explain two ways in which cultural capital can give an advantage to some pupils in education (10)
Selected Essay Questions
- Assess the argument that cultural factors are more important that material factors when explaining social class and achievement. (20)
- Assess the view that home factors are more important than in-school factors when explaining differential achievement by social class (20)
The Main ‘Waves’ of Education Policies
- 1944 – The Tripartite System
- 1965 – Comprehensivisation
- 1988 – The 1988 Education Reform Act
- 1997 – New Labour’s Education Policies
- 2010 – The Coalition and the New New Right’s Education Policies
Possible Issues Questions Might Focus On
- To what extent have policies raised standards in education?
- To what extent have policies improved equality of opportunity?
- Perspectives on selection as an educational policy
- Perspectives on the increased privatisation of education
- How is globalisation affecting educational and educational policy?
|Some Concepts and specific policies you need know about
|In the context of education, briefly explain what is meant by….
· The Tripartite system
· The New Right
· League Tables
· The National Curriculum
· Selection by mortgage
· Teaching to the test
· Sink schools
|· The school-parent alliance
· Disconnected choosers and skilled choosers
· Cultural and social capital
· Free Schools
· Sure Start
· Education Maintenance Allowance
· Modern Apprenticeships
· Compensatory education
· Faith schools
· Free schools
Possible Outline and Essay Questions
- Outline two ways in which educational policies since 1988 have aimed to create a market in education (10)
- Outline two consequences of the increased privatisation of education (10)
- Assess the view that educational policies since 1988 have failed to improve equality of
What you need to know for the perspectives on education topic for the AQA’s A-level sociology
This is normally the first topic taught as part of the sociology of education module within A-level sociology.
Perspectives on the role of education covers mainly bullet point one on the AQA A-level sociology specification on the role of education as it relates to society and the economy.
Perspectives on education are assessed as part of the AQA’s SCLY1 Paper one: Education and Theory and Methods paper – one of three papers outlined on my revision exam and advice page.
Perspectives on Education: Main Sub Topics
- The Functionalist Perspective
- The Marxist Perspective
- The Neoliberal and New Right Perspective
- The Post-Modernist Perspective
- The Impact of Globalisation on Education
- The relationship between education, the economy and work
You need to be able to define the following key concepts, explain how they are related to class and educational achievement, and asses their relative importance in explaining ethnic differences in educational achievement
- Ideological state apparatus
- Repressive state apparatus
- Ideological tool
- Dominant ideology
- Correspondence theory
- The hidden/informal curriculum
- Voucher System
- Value consensus
- Role allocation
- Specialist skills
- Social solidarity
- National identity
For definitions of these key concepts please see my education key concepts page.
Selected Short Answer Questions
There are three types of question – a four and a six mark which will ask you to outline two things and a 10 mark ‘analyse using the item’ question.
- Outline two ways in which education might transmit the dominant ideology according to Marxists (4 marks)
- Outline two ways in which education might benefit males according to feminists (4 marks)
- Outline three positive functions of education according to functionalists (6 marks)
- Outline two similarities between the Functionalist and New Right perspectives on education (4 marks)
- (Applying material from item B) analyse two ways in which education might contribute to the maintenance of society as a whole (10 marks)
- (Applying material from item B and elsewhere analyse two ways in which the education system has changed in response to globalisation (10 marks)
- Applying material from Item A, analyse two effects of increased parental choice on pupils’ experience of education (10 marks).
Possible 30 Mark Essay Questions on Education
As with the 10 mark questions you will get an item for the essay questions which you must refer to in your answer for maximum possible marks!
(Using material from the item and elsewhere) Evaluate sociological explanations of the role of education in transmitting ideas and values (30)
(Using material from the item and elsewhere) Evaluate the Marxist Perspective on the Role of Education in Society (30)
Assess the point of view that education creates inequality in society. (20)
Signposting and other relevant posts:
For links to further posts on perspectives on education please see my sociology of education page.
For advice on how to answer short answer questions and the essay questions above you might like to see my page on revision and exam advice, the paper 1 section!
Please click here to return to the homepage – ReviseSociology.com
A suggested template for the Methods in Context Question on one of the AQA’s 7191 (1)education and methods in context sample exam papers – the template should work for most Method in Context questions, but it won’t work for all of them (it’ll fit less well for secondary data MIC questions)
Question: 06 Read Item B below and answer the question that follows
Investigating pupils with behavioural difficulties
Some pupils experience behavioural difficulties and problems interacting with others. This can create a major obstacle to learning, for both themselves and their classmates. In some cases, they are taught in specialist schools or in pupil referral units separate from mainstream education. Often, their behavioural difficulties result from problems outside school and many pupils come from materially deprived and chaotic home backgrounds.
Some sociologists may study pupils with behavioural difficulties using covert participant observation. This method enables the researcher to witness directly the pupils’ behaviour and its context. It may also allow the researcher to build a relationship of trust with pupils and parents. However, the researcher may find it difficult to fit in and he or she may need to adopt a specialised role such as teacher or support worker.
Evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties (20)
Suggested Essay Plan
Cover Four things – Sampling/ Representativeness, Access, Validity, Ethics – In relation to the specific topic you are will be researching….
|Discuss getting a sample/ Representativeness
||How might you gain a representative sample of the group you are studying? Are there any reasons why it might be difficult to get a representative sample?
Will the research method in the question make achieving a representative sample easier or more difficult?
What could you do to ensure representativeness?
|Discuss gaining access to respondents
||Once you’ve decided on your sample, why might gaining access to respondents be a problem? (think of who you will be researching, and where you will be researching)
Will the choice of method make gaining access easier or more difficult?
What would you have to do to make sure you can gain access to this particular group?
|Discuss validity/ empathy/ trust/ Insight
||Think of who you will be researching – are there any specific reasons why they may not wish to disclose information, or be unable to be disclose information?
Will the research method in the question make gaining trust easier or more difficult?
What could you do to make sure you get valid data from the people you will be researching?
||Think of the specific topic you are researching in relation to who you will be researching – are there any specific ethical problems with researching these people?
Given these ethical problems, is the research method appropriate?
How can you make sure research is ethical?
||Based on all of the above is this a practical, theoretically sound and ethical method for this topic
NB – For the Topic you could discuss any of the following:
Who you might be researching
- Support Staff
Where you might be researching pupils with behavioural difficulties
- Parents’ homes
Specific characteristics of the subjects under investigation
- Parental consent
For the Method – You should consider all of TPEN: See here for the factors you should consider
Using Participant Observation to Research Education