Southern Culture Of Violence Thesis

Southern Culture Of Violence Thesis-83
Implicit in this proposition is the concept of disputatiousness, which suggests that violence is a central means for subcultural affiliates to maintain and protect their status.According to Wolfgang and Ferracuti, violent reactions to perceived threats to reputation or honour are culturally prescribed, given that a failure to react defensively may result in life-threatening consequences.Sellin (1938), Miller (1958) and Cohen (1951) were amongst the first of many cultural deviance theorists to develop the concept of a criminal subculture and to link it to social problems such as poverty and inequality.

Implicit in this proposition is the concept of disputatiousness, which suggests that violence is a central means for subcultural affiliates to maintain and protect their status.According to Wolfgang and Ferracuti, violent reactions to perceived threats to reputation or honour are culturally prescribed, given that a failure to react defensively may result in life-threatening consequences.Sellin (1938), Miller (1958) and Cohen (1951) were amongst the first of many cultural deviance theorists to develop the concept of a criminal subculture and to link it to social problems such as poverty and inequality.

As a result, equipped with the values to justify their violent actions, subcultural offenders engage in violence frequently and guiltlessly, with little provocation (Wolfgang and Ferracuti, 1967: 314).

With this in mind, Wolfgang and Ferracuti propose the following: We suggest that, by identifying the groups with the highest rates of homicide, we should find in the most intense degree subcultures of violence; and, having focused on these groups we should subsequently examine the value system of their subculture, the importance of human life in the scale of values, the kinds of expected reaction to certain types of stimulus, perceptual differenced in the evaluation of stimuli, and the general personality structure of the subcultural actors (Wolfgang and Ferracuti 1967: 153).

Thus, following the identification of a potential subculture of violence based on statistics indicating concentrations of violence amongst marginalized men, whether “pro-violent” values are in existence should be assessed through determinations of whether there is collective approval, encouragement and reward for engaging in violence.

Over the past three decades, the subculture of violence thesis has undergone considerable scrutiny, given that Wolfgang and Ferracuti’s claims at the time they were writing were, for the most part, unsubstantiated.

Those who have undertaken evaluations of this framework have pointed out the tautological or circular reasoning that underlies the assumed link between violent values and violent actions and the importance of analyzing individual data on values in order to asses the validity of this thesis (Erlanger, 1974; Kornhauser, 1978).

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