The term media can be defined as the main means of mass communication and it plays an essential part in
developing and shaping public opinion (Ruddock, 2013). When the media
represents people it often classifies them based on their age. Prevailing
representations of youth in the media is often stereotypical and negative. The
terms ‘hoodlums, ‘yobs’ and ‘thugs’ are often used when describing young people
in the media (Ruddock, 2013). This reinforces
judgement of young people as being a social problem. This analysis I will be
exploring different ways in which delinquents are represented in the media. The
media piece i have chosen to analyse is the trailer of the movie ‘Kidulthood’
which came out in 2006. This piece is of relevance as it is set in Britain and
the themes within the media piece are drug and alcohol abuse, sexual activities
and violence; all of which are increasing social problems amongst youths in
today’s society (Kaufman and Agnew, 2017). Using the media piece I will analyse
how young people are represented and relate it to subcultural theories such as
Albert Cohen’s status frustration theory (1955), Walter Miller’s focal concern
(1958) and Cloward and Ohlin’s three types of criminal subcultures (2013).


Subcultural theories developed from Albert Merton’s Strain
Theory. Instead of adjusting to classical perspectives within criminology,
subcultural theorists focuses on how deviance occurs when a person conforms to the
social group that they affiliate themselves with rather than the culture of
mainstream society (Shoemaker, 2010). In other words Kaufman et al (2017)
states that it is the peer group that encourages individuals to immerse in
delinquency and crime notably when the group the individual belongs to has
different norms and values to the rest of society. Often delinquency and crime
is the picture depicted by media regarding young people.

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The piece I am studying is the trailer of the movie
Kidulthood. Kidulthood (2006) is a British Drama Film directed by Menhaj Huda
and written by Noel Clarke which addresses British youth and street culture. The
movie focused on the lives of the teenagers in impoverished areas of West
London. After the tragic suicide of a bullied student Katie, school was closed
for the day and the movie followed the teenagers through that day. Partying,
Bullying, drugs, sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, money and violence was
presented as daily norms throughout the movie.


Subcultural theorists suggest that a few groups obtain
contrasting norms and values from those held by the rest of society (Kaufman
and Agnew, 2017). Albert Cohen (1995) speculates that deviance only occurs
within the lower class and characteristics amongst delinquent individuals often
involve them being in the bottom tiers in schools and living in deprived areas
(Cohen, 1995). According to Cohen (1995) this results in these individuals not
being able to succeed through legitimate means. Thus Juvenile delinquency
represented in the media can be explained as status frustration. The chosen
media piece was set out in two poor areas of West London; Ladbroke Grove and
Latimer Road.  They are deprived area whereby many are faced with
challenges such as lack of social mobility, employment opportunities and poor housing.
The three boys Trife, Jay and Moony align with Cohen’s working class boys. The
boys suffer from cultural deprivation and because of this they do not have the
necessary skills to achieve. This media piece represents these young boys as
having inadequate education and are of low social class. This is reflected in
their clothes which consisted of baggy clothing and hoodies and also the
language they used. The characters used a lot of slang words such as ‘blud’,
‘fam’ and a lot of swearing which can be seen as an extension of the youth
subculture that the young characters identify themselves with.


Due to factors such as cultural deprivation young people
reject mainstream cultural goals and create their own subcultural system of
values (Cohen, 1995).  This subculture overturns mainstream norms and
values and instead offers rewards to deviant behaviour (Kaufman and Agnew,
2017). An example of this is status and this can be acquired through breaking
the rules and being mischievous. For example in the trailer of Kidulthood, they
gain status and respect by engaging in delinquent activities such as causing
trouble, intimidating others and breaking both the school rules and the law.
Mooney and Trife are seen smoking on the school playground showing no remorse
for authority as the teacher calls them in to resume lessons. There is also a
lot of violence shown in this film, which is another way the teenagers gain
respect and status. A lot of media representation of young people involve
violence and this is also portrayed in the media piece. Sam is seen as the
school bully who has gained status through his malicious behaviour and fear.
 In the media piece he confronted the trio and stole Jays Game boy. When
Trife tried to defend him, Sam threw him on the floor and started beating them
up. The media shows that in order to get what they want teenagers resort to
violence; and in retaliation the boys decided to go round to Sam’s house tying
his brother up and went on to beating Sam up when he came home.


The Focal Concerns Theory reiterates the roles of social
networks within subcultures. Walter B. Miller (1958) suggested that lower class
cultures have developed a number of concerns and mechanisms that they use to
cope with their situation. He called these focal concerns and they are
toughness, smartness, trouble, autonomy, excitement and fate. In adolescence
these focal concerns are exaggerated as individuals belong to peer groups which
demand conformity as a way to gain status (Shoemaker, 2010). These focal
concerns are seen in many parts of the media piece.  People within the
lower class subculture value toughness as an important trait; however this can
result in assault and violence (Shoemaker, 2010).  As mentioned
previously, assault and violence is seen repeatedly throughout the media piece.
Some of the characteristics that are held by the characters in the media piece
all support Millers theory. This included masculinity, fearlessness and daring.
 Seconds into the trailer a group of girls are seen kicking, slapping and
pulling the hair of another student inside the classroom. Straight after is the
confrontation scene of Trife and his boys with Sam. Sam is seen kicking Trife
to the floor and laughing. In another scene Jay was seen assaulting a shop
owner throwing glass bottle as the owner refuses to serve him. Scenes
portraying violence and assault is repeated bolstering the notion that youth
are a social problem as they always turn to violence.


addition, another focal concern seen in the media piece is autonomy. Lower class
culture are eminently hesitant about being controlled by others (Miller,
1958).In other words they detest being told what to do and in turn this brings
them into conflict with authority figures. In the scene of the playground a
teacher turns to Trife and his boys and says “Get inside now before the second
bell”. Trife approaches the teacher giving him direct eye contact as they stand
centimetres apart. The confrontation amongst the two almost felt like a
standoff. Within seconds the teacher looked away losing all power in the
situation, only then was when Trife walked away. This was also repeated when
Trife was stopped by a policeman. This shows that the media represents youths
as being anti-authoritarian. Media representation of youth often portray them
as a social problem, immoral or anti-authoritarian. As a result the behaviour
of youth has attracted disapproval especially when it comes to drinking and
drug taking (Ruddock, 2013). This links to another one of Miller’s focal
concerns; excitement. This culture continually looks for excitement and thrills
which often means taking part in what Stanley Hall (1906) calls risky
behaviour. Having the whole day off to do as they pleased, the characters in
the media piece are experimenting excitement.  The characters are seen
smoking weed, drinking, sniffing cocaine and engaging in sexual activities.
Young people are often associated with behaviours that are looked down upon by
the reset of society. However a combination these ‘focal concerns’ has led to
subcultures that recognise crime and deviance as normal.


representation of youth in the media often illustrates them engaging in
delinquent behaviours and committing crimes
(Ruddock, 2013). There seems to be an overrepresentation of youth crime in news
coverage. One study found that a third of articles focus on the issue of crime
when reporting young people (Halsey and White, 2008) and. In the trailer of
Kidulthood, the young characters are seen committing numerous crimes and
Cloward and Ohlin (2013) suggest the reason for this is due to the lack of
opportunities which lead to the formation of three types of delinquent
subcultures; criminal subculture, conflict subculture and retreatist
subculture. Cloward and Ohlin (2013) clarify that there are two types of
opportunity structures; legitimate and illegitimate. They emphasise that not
everyone can access the legitimate opportunity structure due to strain. In
areas such as the one in the media piece young people live in a location where
they are faced with both material and cultural deprivation. Within these areas
there are existing deviant subcultures (Kaufman and Agnew, 2017). The
legitimate opportunity structure in such areas is blocked and because of this
young people turn to illegitimate opportunity and join the existing deviant
subcultures. This is evident in the media piece as the characters display
behaviour that fit in with Cloward and Ohlin’s deviant subcultures.


The criminal subculture is based around organised crime.
Those within this subculture live off of committing crime. Career criminals
tend to target young people and socialise them into their own criminal career
(Shoemaker, 2013). This is seen in the media piece with Trife and his gangster
Uncle. As seen in the media piece the sequence
of boys rejecting mainstream culture and forming delinquent subcultures first
starts off in school. However this can be come far reaching as they grow up,
taking on serious criminal behaviour. In the media piece Trife was being
tempted into the world of crime by his ruthless gangster uncle as he gave him
money to make replica guns. Trife’s Uncle was
socialising him into a criminal career for economic gain and material success.
However Trife’s Uncle was exploiting his vulnerability this can be said for
many young people who are involved in criminal activities. However things like
this are not shown in the media representation of young people. Conflict
subcultures are involved in a lot of territorial violence and gang fighting
(Shoemaker, 2013). The media piece includes elements of conflict subcultures.
In the playground scene different social groups form and everyone knows their
place on the playground. Overstepping in someone else ‘turf’ can lead to
violence which is seen in the many violent encounters such as Sam and Trife’s
on going dispute. Cloward and Ohlin (2013) explain that the retreatist
subculture often involve them dropping out of both legitimate and illegitimate
opportunity structures. They then turn to drug abuse and alcohol abuse. The
media piece did not necessarily indicate the characters dropping out of both
opportunity structures as they all had goal so not necessarily a retreatist subculture
but there was a lot of drug and alcohol abuse.


The trailer of Kidulthood looks at the stereotypical
teenagers. It seems to focus on a number of issues faced by teenagers.
 The main themes that arise is violence, sexual activities, drug and
alcohol abuse which arise from them being part of a deviant subcultures. The
themes are do occur within youths but they are stereotypical it does not provide
a realistic representation of youths. However, it does provide realism on how
young people act within certain subcultures. By using the trailer of Kidulthood
I analysed how the youths are represented in relation to subcultural theories
of Cohen, Miller and Cloward and Ohlin. Cohen (2013) suggests that the juvenile
delinquency represented in the media could be explained as status frustration.
This is evident in the media piece as the film took place in deprived areas of
London. Miller (1958) explained how lower class people use mechanisms that they
use to cope with their situation which he calls focal concerns. Many of these
focal concerns were seen in the behaviour of the youths displayed in the media
piece such as toughness, excitement and autonomy. Furthermore Cloward and Ohlin
(2013) classifieds three different delinquent subcultures. These are criminal
subculture, conflict subculture and retreatist subculture. The characters in the media piece display behaviour
that fit in with their theory. Thus the way in which delinquents and
delinquency are represented in the media can be explained by subcultural





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