A subculture is defined as a set of people having a set of behavior and beliefs and culture. These could be hidden or diverse which is a way to differentiate them from a larger culture to which the subculture belongs. This definition is very important to understand the oppositional attitude of the criminals when committing crimes. Criminals or offenders tend to oppose their basic aims since they (criminals) are described to have a character that is the same with the unending wants of other people in the society.
Examples of these ‘wants’ are wealth, power and good life status. Sub cultural groups’ structural position in the capitalist world is very essential to the identification of possible offenders. Thus, sub cultural styles are more likely to be developed in the character of the working-class youths rather than the character of the middle class youth subculture. However, there are tendencies that the subculture of the middle class youth to commit crimes but crime rates in this subculture is not the same as the crime rate created by the working-class youth.
To be able to understand the different sub-cultures that exist in the society, it is essential to consider the subjective interpretations of the people involved within the sub-cultural group. For example, in the hippy subculture (musical group, commonly referred to as the ‘punks’) which is very common to the middle-class youth culture, their beliefs and behavior towards life and crime should be analyzed. Hippy sub-culture is the youth sub culture which is afraid of going to wars because they are more concentrated to youth activities that most interests them—music.
Understanding of the social conditions of the sub cultural groups is also important to identify the behavior that give rise to the criminal acts of the offenders. Hence, in the sub-cultural group of the working-class youth’s priorities, going to war is not a good idea for them because of the economic instability they are in (Cohen and Folsen, 1979:588). Sub-cultural values of the sub-cultural groups are still dependent of the culture where the groups came from.
According to Lea and Young, a sub-cultural group particularly the group of the working-class youth generally accepts the feature of Capitalism in their society but they engage in crimes because of the reason that they want to cope with the feature of the society where the live (Lea and Young, 1984). Generally, sub-culture does not only conform to the working-class youth sub-cultural group of the society, it is only a part of the capitalist society where everyone lives.
There are other sub-cultural groups in the society but the there is just a large focus on the behavior and beliefs of the working-class youth because they are perceived to be the ones causing a high crime rate in the society. Sub-culture is being able to give support and help to individual member’s behavior. This is done because of the support as well as the moral ties that bind the individuals of a sub-cultural group to have a common goal and objective. Subculture also is able to explain the reason why the group of the older people is not so much to be involved in crimes.
Simply put, the group comprising the old people is not already being able to be supported by their peer and therefore, they become isolated and live their lives on their own. However, the presence of crimes referred as the ‘individualistic crimes’ (wife battering, sexual harassment) are just result from criticizing the individual behavior of a person. Improper policing by the official agencies of the criminal justice system is also a reason that may result for individualistic crimes to happen (Becker, 1968).
Young (1994) present arguments to incomplete explanation of occurrence of crimes during good and bad economic times that is experienced by the society. Aetiology is more concerned of the cause of the things that happens in a particular area, thus, aetiology is being able to assume primary importance in crime per se. Young further explained that if a crime is committed out of injustice, then the corresponding solution to the crime being committed out of injustice is to follow the directions that lead to injustice.
This means that before considering other factors that would be able to be the cause of the crime; the focus should be first given to the related instances of injustice. Moreover, there are crimes committed by the offender because of the poor conditions they are experiencing. In this case, the impossibility to prevent the crime to happen is very rare if the poor condition of the victim is not change. It is not right to punish an offender if the circumstances beyond his control. During times when the circumstances are beyond the control of the criminal, punishment will be given to the offender while blame will be given back to the victim.
In the positivism view, crimes are considered to be created because of the injustice which in turn had redirected the individual deprivation which is also a cause of the crimes that had been happening. Individual deprivation is seen in people who had been victims of maternal deprivation and broken homes. Deprivation created by the raising standards of education and housing is also a cause of crime but it was just redirected by the positivism view that injustice is the fundamental cause of crime. Young is against the positivist’s view that crimes were created because of unemployment or poverty.
Young agrees with the view of the Sub-Cultural Theory that some sub-cultural groups lack the opportunity to achieve social and economic stability. This opportunity is mostly experienced by the people who are classified to be in the most disadvantageous section of the society. As mentioned in the earlier discussions, criminals commit crimes because criminals do have this social value of wanting to achieve material success. Social status is also a reason for these criminals to commit crimes because they find social status to be able to stand out in the competitive society.
Thus, the behavior of a criminal is the result of the capitalist principles which is in illegal form; labor is done by the criminal in exchange of the money they get (Young, 1994). The left realists believe that relative deprivation is the result why people are discontented and therefore why crimes are committed. But discontentment did not result from absolute deprivation. This means that absolute poverty does not necessarily lead to a discontent from a sub-culture. Fatalism will also be a result of absolute poverty. Discontent occurs only when different groups are studied to have unnecessary injustices.
Cultures which have exploited values have already been existing in the world for decades of years which really experienced the perception of injustice. Indeed, crimes had resulted into just relative and not absolute deprivation (Lea and Young, 1996:136). Merton (1938:672) had presented that subjective feelings of deprivation is relative upon an individual’s perception of the different subjective social categories (wealth, money) of the people around them. In an example quoted from Merton’s explanation of the subjective feeling of an individual is that a millionaire living in a billionaire’s society is relatively deprived.
In addition Young had also presented argument that relative deprivation is the most possible cause of the criminality. Criminality is able to be very rampant to the people who started had believed that progress had been able to freeze out in their lives and they had no reason to be in progress because of the injustices and unfairness the society had been providing them. Moreover, political disenchantment that is felt by these people will also cause different crimes such as rioting.
Thus, at an individual level, theft happens in order to equalize the poverty that is felt by the people who are tagged to be the most deprived people in the society. Left realists do not consider that the conductance of crime is not a reason that had happened because of the reaction of the criminals to the highest ruling class in the society, it is simply happening because of the relative deprivation felt by the criminals. Realists also argue that crime happens because of the action of the politicians of not giving solutions to the deprivation felt by the working class of the society (Young, 1994).