Merton's strain theory

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  • Merton's strain theory
    • Merton uses his theory to explain the patterns of deviance and the different types depend on an individuals reaction to the strain
      • Retreatism- This is when individuals reject the goals and become drop outs
      • Rebellion- This is when individuals reject the existing goals but create their own goals to form a rebellion
      • Ritualism- This is when individuals give up on achieving mainstream goals but have internalised them so stay in dead end jobd
      • Innovation- This is when individuals accept the mainstram goals but find new ways to achieve them such as theft
      • Conformity- This is when individuals accept mainstream goals and try to gain them through the normal means
    • Merton developed Durkheim's theory of anomie to explain deviance
    • Merton uses the American Dream to explain his theory
      • Merton does not explain crime which does not have a financial profit
    • Merton's theory combines structural factors and cultural factors
      • Structural factors- Societies have unequal opportunity structure
        • Does explain why crime rates are lower in countries such as Japan
      • Cultural factors- The strong emphasise on success goals and the weak emphasise on the normal ways to achieve them
    • The American Dream expects people to achieve this through doing well in education and having a good career
    • Some individuals do not achieve the American Dream because they are denied opportunities so turn to deviance to achieve their goals
      • This is the strain to anomie, this is when individuals are under pressure to reach goals which they feel like they cannot so turn to deviance
    • Merton uses deviance as a strain between the goals that common culture wants individuals to achieve and the institutional structure of society which allows them to achieve their goals
      • People that want to achieve goals but cannot do this due to laws and this is when deviance occurs


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