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Example Answer for Question 3 Paper 3: A Level Sociology, June 2017 (AQA)

A Level

Last updated 21 Jun 2017

Q3 (10 marks)

Item A refers to the blocked opportunities that some young people experience which leads to underachievement at school. This is often due to negative stereotypes and labelling, resulting in students being placed in low sets and streams and given low status information. Subsequently they fail to achieve, and therefore are unable to achieve through legitimate means. Young males who are denied opportunities in the education system often turn to subcultures as a means of achieving status. Cohen refers to this as status frustration. Consequently, young males adopt an alternate status hierarchy that subverts the norms and values of society and sees deviance, such as vandalism, violence and anti-social behaviour as desirable behaviour because they cannot achieve the mainstream goals of society.

Item A also refers to young people ‘living in a deprived or unstable neighbourhood’ and how this impacts on their opportunities for achieving mainstream goals. Cloward and Ohlin suggested that young males are presented with illegitimate opportunities in their neighbourhoods when the mainstream education system fails to provide them with a legitimate route to success. They suggested that in neighbourhoods with a long established criminal subculture, young males are often offered an apprenticeship in crime, starting at a low level of a criminal organisation and being given the opportunity to progress through the ranks of organised crime. For those living in ‘unstable neighbourhoods’ this could present young people with an opportunity to join a conflict subculture. These are typically less organised than criminal subcultures and arise in areas where there is a fragmented community or no history of organised criminal activity. They tend to be involved in violence towards rival gangs and fight over turf, although in contemporary times this has evolved to controlling the drugs trade in areas of deprivation.  These conflict subcultures give young people who are denied opportunities to achieve mainstream goals an alternate means of gaining either status and/or financial rewards. 

Please Note: These answers have been produced without the knowledge of the mark scheme and merely reflect my attempt at producing a model answer on the day of the exam.


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