Functionalist - Mertons strain theory - crime and deviance

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  • Functionalism - Mertons Strain theory
    • people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve goals legitimately
    • Merton adapted Durkheim's concept of anomie - into two elements
      • Structural factors
        • Societies unequal opportunities structure
      • Cultural Fcators
        • The strong emphasis on goals, and the weaker emphasis on using legitimate means to achieve them
      • Deviance is a result of strain between two things;
        • goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve
        • What the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately
    • The American Dream
      • American are expected to pursue this goal by legitimate means
      • Reality - Many disadvantaged groups are denied the opportunities achieve gals legitimately
      • Resulting in strain between the cultural goal of money and success and the lack of legitimate means leads to frustration
        • Reality - Many disadvantaged groups are denied the opportunities achieve gals legitimately
      • Merton says the pressure to deviate is further enhanced due to the emphasis put on achieving and being successful
    • Deviant Adaptions to Strain
      • Conformity
        • Individuals accept the culturally approved goals and strive to achieve them legitimately
      • Innovation
        • Individuals accept the goal of money success but use new legitimate ways to achieve it
      • Ritualism
        • Individuals give up trying to achieve the goals but have internalised legitimate means.
      • Retreatism
        • Individuals reject both the goals and the legitimate means and become 'dropouts'
      • Rebelion
        • Individuals reject social goals  and replace them with new ones in a desire to bring back revolutionary change
    • Criticisms
      • it takes official crime statistics on face value
        • Over representing working class crime
      • Merton sees crime as a woking class phenomenon
      • Too deterministic


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