Middle class delinquency is a unique aspect in the domain of gang activity. Most of the time, middle class delinquency arises from the occurrence of strain in which members of the middle class are increasingly being pressured to join the high class of the society. According to Albert Cohen’s status frustration theory, due to the occurrence of poor socialization among some classes in society, the affected persons undergo status of frustration as they strive to achieve higher goals in society, and as a result, they end up seeking collective solution through involvement in delinquent gangs (Burfeind, 2011). Thus, middle class delinquency has a direct correlation with the formation of gangs, which aim at addressing the middle class inadequacies.
The occurrence of delinquency in the middle class is mainly driven by the desire to achieve a better social status and recognition within a group. The middle class society is traditionally known to have social strict codes of conduct to which its members are expected to abide. This conservative approach has the effect of increasing frustrations among some of its members who desire a society with liberal perspectives. As a result, these members end up rebelling by becoming delinquent. In the event the response in middle delinquency is to value hard work, the aspects like leisure and substance values, which are common truancy elements of higher and lower classes (Siegel & Welsh, 2011). This leads them to seek comfort within a group that treats members as equals and does not necessarily judge or criticize them for their actions.
Another aspect that leads to middle class involvement with gangs is the desire to gain a voice of authority within the group. Since, the middle class subculture has a definite leadership arrangement it is almost difficult to infiltrate already established social order. Consequently, frustrated individuals who are mostly in their teen years seek alternative approaches of addressing the inequity. At first, they will try seeking advice from the authorities; however, they end up experiencing resistance, since most of the times what they are proposing is not in line with the interests of the middle class. This causes them to look for alternative ways in a transformational process, which is called a reactive reformation (Siegel & Welsh, 2011). Here they assign their members special attributes to safeguard what they want to accomplish.
According to Burfeind (2011), the delinquent subculture develops values that stand in sharp contrast to middle class goals (p.238). These values are embedded in the social attributes they assign to members belonging to the gangs. The delinquent individual is willing to take high risks, violate law provisions, and undermine middle class conventions (Siegel & Welsh, 2011). This drives the gang members to conduct crimes, most of which are targeted at particular members of the entire middle class. This usually lands the group in serious confrontation with the law enforcement officials, and some end up seeking asylum in other neighborhoods.
Finally, middle delinquency enables unsatisfied members within the middle class to achieve self gratification and status. Through reaction reformation provided by the gangs, members experience status and success in the eyes of the group members (Burfeind, 2011). This way the members are able to express their dissatisfaction regarding the strict social order existing within the middle class. In essence, the goal of a middle class delinquency is to solve the problems faced by young members of the group who are dissatisfied with the values embraced by the group. Thus, by creating a gang they can have their own social rules, which are independent from those that are considered the main in the society.