Strain Theory And Robert Merton's Anomie Theory

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Robert Merton created quite a big influence on what is known as, Strain theories. He based it off of Durkheim’s Anomie concept, but they each had their own different approach of it. Merton’s approach was towards what he called it as, “The American dream” Merton describes it as (1938), “in our competitive society, where in wealth has taken on a highly symbolic cast.” (677). He believes that society as a whole gives this dream too much of an importance. This American dream is his concept of Anomie. His model of Anomie became widely known and still one of the most cited theories. “Anomie is conceived as a breakdown in the cultural structure, occurring particularly when there is an acute disjunction between the cultural norms and goals” (Winslow,1968, p.143). Merton describes the cultural goal as success, material wealth. This goal is what every American should reach for. Every aspect of reaching this goal is way to overstressed in this culture. The means towards this goal, he describes, is unimportant. The way you work towards success isn’t what will be remembered. Cheating and lying are acceptable in society as a form of reaching the goal as long as success is reached. Merton says (1938), “The emphasis upon certain goals may vary independently of the degree of emphasis upon institutional means” (673). His concern is the essence given that society tends to put more significance towards the goal and not much towards the way to reach it; there is more of an emphasis towards the goal. Merton believes there should be a balance within both the goal and the means. The way you wish to achieve this goal should be just as equal as how much you wish for this material wealth. A good example of this over emphasis towards the goal Tibbet... ... middle of paper ... ...ime of robbery; he jumped to conclusions to fast. His hopes went down after his job loss that de decided he had nothing to loose and went on with his crime. He ignored the hard work that comes along with material wealth and was caught up with unrealistic ideas. Frankie did not balance out either the means of the goal, or the cultural goal Merton describes as necessary. He was just trying to achieve a widely approved goal to many of us in this society. Merton received many criticisms toward his theory, Anomie. The basis of them was, Anomie was too general, it did not explain much. It does not explain why individuals choose to commit certain types of crime. A study was examined between aspirations and expectations; there was no evidence with criminal activity. But for being so general, his theory is still one to be most popular coming down to the most cited theory.
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