Albert K. Cohen

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Albert Kircidel Cohen (born June 15, 1918 in Boston , Massachusetts , † November 25, 2014 in Chelsea , Massachusetts) was an American criminologist who is counted among the classics of criminal sociology. He is the founder of the criminological subculture theory .


Cohen studied at Harvard University and Indiana University . At Harvard he was a student of the sociologists Talcott Parsons and Robert K. Merton . In Indiana, under the influence of Edwin H. Sutherland , he turned to criminological issues. Since 1947 Cohen taught sociology and criminology at Indiana University and the University of Connecticut .

In his book Delinquent boys. The culture of the gang (1955) Cohen used a conception of subculture for a criminological analysis for the first time . The term subculture is used to describe smaller groups whose members know each other personally and differentiate themselves from the social environment (especially that of adults) through group-specific norms. In this context, criminal acts do not necessarily have an instrumental character; they can also have a symbolic function and be committed for themselves.

Fonts (selection)

  • Delinquent boys.The culture of the gang . Free Press, Glencoe (Illinois) 1955.
    • Criminal youth. On the sociology of youth gangs , Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1961.
  • Deviance and control . Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs 1966.
    • Deviation and Control , 4th edition, Munich: Juventa-Verlag, 1975, ISBN 3-7799-0134-X (first edition 1968).
  • The elasticity of evil. Changes in the social definition of deviance . Blackwell for the Oxford University Penal Research Unit, Oxford 1974, ISBN 0631142800 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Obituary in ASA footnotes (English)
  2. Daniela Klimke and Aldo Legnaro (eds.); Basic criminological texts , Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2016, ISBN 978-3-658-06503-4 , p. 269.