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Culture Conflict In Canada

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 2113 words Published: 25th Apr 2017

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Culture is defined as, “a particular society at a particular time and place”. This definition describes that cultures in various locations and during different time periods are unique, and cannot be duplicated. In a multicultural nation, such as Canada, there are various cultures with different views, beliefs and opinions that have been brought by the new immigrants and shared within their ethnic communities, as well as their families. At times these cultures and views can clash, and result in one interpretation of what is believed to be right to override the other. This is when the relation of the concept of culture relating to crime can be made. At times what may seem to be viewed as normal or non deviant within one culture can be deemed illegal and unlawful by another culture. This however becomes a culture shock when people of various subcultures are forced to abide to the culture of the metro poles they live in. This concept of culture relating to multiculturalism can relate to culture of conflict theory, the subculture theory and the differential association theory. It is not only within ethnic groups that cultural conflicts exist, but also within subcultural groups that are within a larger context of society. The concept of culture invoking crimes is substantially based upon the fact that subcultures clash because their culture is under the interpretation that their values, beliefs and judgements are opposite to what they believed should be deemed criminal. The result of crime within various cultures, are caused by the differential values of various cultures, the lack of education and adaptation of Canadian culture in the multicultural metro poles, and the opportunities that exist in order to prevent crime.

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Culture conflict theory states that “the root cause of criminality can be found in a clash of values between differently socialized groups over what is acceptable of proper behaviour”. For example, for some, protesting for one’s rights and freedoms by blocking a road is deemed illegal from the place of origin they immigrated from, therefore when viewing Canadian citizens continually protesting on the roads may cause them to believe that the individuals’ committing these acts are criminals. Canada being a multicultural nation, harbours many different cultures that may in fact not be used to the behaviour and cultural views of the greater Canadian society in which they belong in. This often is due to the conduct norm defined by Sellin as, “the shared expectation of a social group relative to conduct”. This expectation of what is considered to be normal and deviant are socially created by the broader society and forced upon individuals to follow. Canada for example has progressed greatly from a conservative society, to a very liberal and free democratic society. Many things have changed with regards to conventions and law in Canadian society; such changes aren’t so readily accepted by older generations or various cultures, nor are they easily adapted to. This results in crimes being committed by people that aren’t actually aware of committing an illegal action. This explains Sellin’s point that crime is nothing more than that an argument is that of what is deemed to be right or wrong. Selling also pointed out that there were two types of cultures in conflict, they were primary and secondary conflict which also led to the clash of cultures and the result of crime.

Primary conflict is described as that in which there is, “a fundamental clash of cultures that occurs”.An example that is very common in contemporary society is the idea of honour killings by parents. “Honour killings are committed usually to daughters by parents or older siblings because the behaviour of the child is believed to have brought shame to the family. On June 16th 2010, a father and son were sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty for the murder of Aqsa Parvez, a 16-year-old girl of Pakistani descent who wanted to wear western clothes and get a part-time job like her Canadian peers.” Although this example seems to be drastic, it is believed by the individuals that commit these crimes that this is completely normal behaviour that has been practiced in their native lands. This example shows that what may have been deemed illegal and murder by Canadian culture was not the case from where these two individuals came from. The individuals in this case were not aware that they had committed something wrong, because based on their culture it is their responsibility to uphold the family name and do whatever it takes to protect it. The question then remains if this should actually be considered a crime because the person who committed it came from a different culture which did not hold the same views. Or would it be the responsibility of each individual residing in Canada to adapt and learn the conduct norms and completely forget about their values and beliefs. In this primary example, it can be made clear that since Canada is home to many immigrants, a “crime” like this may occur again because of the lack of knowledge of what is considered to be right and wrong in a new culture. Although this act may be considered to be unexplainable to many parents as well as citizens it is clear that many citizens still carry on their culture of their homelands, crimes such as these are bound to continue to flourish in a multicultural society.

Secondary conflict is described by Sellin to be that of which when “smaller cultures within the primary cultures clash”. An example of secondary conflict is the smaller cultures of drug dealers, prostitutes and gamblers that are regarded as clashing with the middle class and upper class values of society. For example for the middle class, making a decent wage through legal means is a way of life and what is considered to be what is considered right, however for those individuals that participate in drug dealing and prostitution it is also seen as their way of life. Therefore when laws are created by the middle class and upper class citizens they are created in a way in which clashes with the way of life of the low class citizens who commit these crimes as a way of earning money and living. Therefore, this crime that is socially constructed by the higher class results in the only way of life the lower class citizens have being deemed as criminalized activity. These crimes rates continue to flourish because these individuals’ way of life has been criminalized by the upper class. Until a new form of opportunity is granted for these individuals they will continue to maintain their deviant ways of life. Thus, this secondary conflict will only disappear when the economically marginalized are able to adapt to the cultural norms of the middle and upper class.

Subcultures are defined as a collection of values and preferences that is communicated to sub cultural participants through a process of socialization. Therefore, this statement is reiterating that it is through interacting with a subculture that one learns how he or she is to act and what he or she is to believe in. This interconnects with subculture theory which is, “a sociological perspective that emphasizes the contribution made by various socialized cultural groups to the phenomenon of crime” For example, street gangs continually function in a sub cultural level where they have their own set of values, beliefs and roles that may not necessarily adapt to the Canadian laws of society, however due to socializations that have made them a member of the group they do not see themselves committing crimes. For example, there are violent subcultures that Ferracuti and Wolfgang describe as individuals learning from being constantly exposed to violent practices as a means of problem solving. This is done by these individuals because violence is seen as a better precaution than other forms of adaptation. Therefore when charging a gang member for brutally attacking another gang member, one has to realize that within the subcultures of these individuals and their gangs what they are doing is only what they have learned to do in response to what has been taught to them. Therefore the question then comes into question of whether the subcultures of these gangs are the reasons why the crime rate is considered so high, and if so what can be done to change the mentalities of these subcultures to adapt to a more acceptable approach.

Many of these subcultures committing crime has been a direct result of the differential opportunity provided to each of these individuals. For example, there are two different opportunity for those individuals that fall into the lower class for a pathway to success, one is measured through legitimate means and the other illegitimate means. Examples of legitimate means are obtaining a job and making an honest living, while illegitimate means are selling drugs, prostituting etc. The reason why most lower class individuals chose illegitimate means over legitimate opportunity is because these measures are readily available. These jobs and opportunities that the lower class have to do in order to survive are always disapproved by society, which results in these individuals committing crimes. These so called delinquents are defined as individuals’ whose behaviours violate basic norms of society and those whose crimes once known by the police get them involved in the criminal justice system. It is described that deviance is just as much an adjustment to conform as is deviance to conform to expectations. What this statement means is that each of these individuals are trying their best to adapt to a society in which everything they do is being considered a crime, therefore at the most they are trying to adapt as much as they can to the expectations and norms of the middle class which do not include the lower class.

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There are three delinquent subcultures that are pointed out which are criminal subcultures, conflict subcultures and retreatist subcultures. Criminal subcultures are ones in which criminal role models are available for imitation by those just entering the subculture. For example, gang leaders that own a gun and have been inside jail are mentoring these new recruit into their subculture and teaching them all that they may know. Conflict subcultures are when participants try to seek status through violence. This could be a scenario where a gang member is trying to earn the trust of his elder gang member, therefore he commits a few crimes to prove that he is worthy of their trust, somewhat like an initiation process. Another subculture is the retreatist subculture where drug use and withdrawal from society dominate. This for example is one of those high drug trafficking cases where the individual is always under the influence of an illegal substance, and prefers to not be in the public eye so he or she will not get caught. Through these various subcultures, one can see that these are still common in our contemporary society, and are continuing to add crime to our statistics.

Conflict culture, subcultures and differential association theory all underlie the reasons why there is a constant issue with crime in the multicultural metro poles. Individuals are unable to break free of their own cultural barriers, and adapt to Canadian cultural barriers that are frankly different and built upon social norms. What one would consider normal in his birthplace may be deemed a crime in Canadian society which is why the cultural conflicts continue to create more crime within Canada. It is not only the cultural conflict, but the processes and structure of subcultures that also deviate in exceptional amounts of crime being committed that is not deemed by the wrong doers to be criminal. One can uncover the fact that aside from the cultural conflicts, these individuals are put in this pathway because only illegitimate means of survival are provided toward for them. This society is built upon socialization of upper class views, morals and beliefs which results in the middle class and lower class being swept under a rug and continuously charged with crimes that they may consider a way of living. The only way in which we are to break free of this cultural crime being committed is by educating the general public about the importance of adaptation of Canadian laws, creating programs for those individuals in dangerous subcultures and allowing all classes to create the conduct of the norms.



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