Robert Merton's Theory Of Anomie

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Robert Merton built off the ideas of Emile Durkheim to create his Theory of Anomie. This is a specified Strain theory. Strain theory says that the social structures within a society may pressure people to commit crimes. Anomie is a term coined by Durkheim to “describe a society in which rules of behavior have been broken down during periods of rapid social change or social crisis”(Siegel 142). Merton took this term, and said that it occurs when people are unable to achieve their goals and consequently attempt to achieve them through other means. Merton added to this, applying the American Dream and society. He argued that gaining wealth is a goal prevalent in the United States, often seen in young kids and adults. Children that come from poor…show more content…
These are conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. They each describe a different level of adaptation, ranging from total compliance with the goals and means of achieving them to completely replacing the goals of society all together. Conformity describes the typical American, with a goal of achieving the American Dream. They go about this by going to college, getting a good job, meeting someone else who is typically successful, and then building a family. Many people are able to do this in some shape or form, even though it often requires taking out loans and paying the bank back monthly for these loans, cars, and houses. Conformists are usually seen as college students or people working “nine-to-five” jobs. These are people who are following the paths laid out for them in order to reach the ultimate goal of…show more content…
Innovators have the same goals as a conformist, but are unable or refuse to achieve these goals in a similar manner. As described earlier, young children often go about making money in an innovative way because they feel they are not making enough money by conforming and working a (most likely) minimum wage job. In his book “Social Theory and Social Structure” he states “first, incentives for success are provided by the established values of the culture and second, the avenues available for moving toward this goal are largely limited by the class structure to those of deviant behavior.” (199). What he is saying here is that in order for this all to happen, goals such as having a nice house with a white picket fence and a family have to be introduced and accepted to the community. While some are able to achieve these goals in a legal manner, others are blocked off from the ability to do this. This is often seen in immigrants or minorities, because their opportunities are often limited. They tend to start dealing drugs and committing crimes they normally would not commit in order to make the money necessary for
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