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Amongst these various explanations, few have been as durable as the explanation of culture.Cultural explanations for violence first emerged in the works of American delinquency theorists in the 1930s who were attempting to account for the concentrations of crime and violence in poor, urban African-American neighbourhoods in the 1930s.
This discussion will explore the implications of these findings and whether there is adequate support to suggest the existence of a subculture of violence.
In , Wolfgang and Ferracuti draw upon Wolfgang’s earlier work on inner-city African-American neighbourhoods in Philadelphia in order to formulate an operational definition of the concept of a subculture.
In addition, Wolfgang and Ferracuti’s assertions have been widely criticized for perpetuating stereotypes of young African-American males, for failing to consider the emergence of subcultures of violence, and for their theoretical negligence of social structural factors in their discussions of root causes of violence (Convington, 2003; Surratt et al., 2004).
Many of the studies that have evaluated the subculture of violence thesis do not test it in its entirety.
This theorization assumes the existence of distinct subcultural, pro-violent values that develop in opposition to dominant or middle-class norms and values.
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This literature review will provide a detailed discussion of the subculture of violence thesis and trace its development from the work of Wolfgang and Ferracuti (1967) to its more current applications.
Though the subculture of violence thesis was originally devised to explain and examine high rates of violence amongst structurally marginalized populations and neighbourhoods, since then, this framework has been applied and evaluated in relation to a variety of other demographics and locales, such as the American South (Nisbett and Cohen, 1996; Hayes, 2005), athletes (Smith, 1979), middle schools and high schools within the United States and Iceland (Felson et al., 1994; Bernburg and Thorlindsson, 2005; Ousey and Wilcox, 2005).
In addition, many have also continued with Wolfgang and Ferracuti’s (1967) original focus and have attempted to determine the existence of a Black subculture of violence (Anderson, 1999; Stewart and Simons, 2006; Brezina et al., 2004; Cao et al., 1997).
The key objective of their work is to develop a way to identify and measure subcultures of violence in order to scientifically prove their existence.
In order to do so, the authors propose an integrated methodological and theoretical approach, which involves drawing from a variety of existing criminological theories as well as from insights from sociology and psychology.