Merton's Strain Theory

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  • Merton's Strain Theory
    • The American Dream
      • WINNING  the game but not playing by the rules.
        • ANALYSIS  - Anomie - norms are too weak to restrain some people from using deviant means to achieve the materialistic goals that the American culture sets them.
      • Cultural Goal - Money Success.
        • Education and Hard Work.
      • Many disadv. groups are denied opportunities to achieve legitimately.
      • Lack of legitimate opportunities produce frustration.
    • Combines two elements ...
      • Structural Factors - societies unequal opportunity structure.
        • STRAIN - what the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately.
      • Cultural Factors - the strong emphasis on success goals and weaker emphais on using legitimate means to achieve them.
        • STRAIN - the goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve.
    • 3. RITUALISM - Individuals give up on the goal, but have internalised the legitimate means so follow the rules for their own sake.
      • + Most crime is property crime, because American society values material wealth so highly.
      • - Determinisitic- WC experience most strain yet dont deviate.
      • - Takes official crime  statistics at face value.
      • - Marxists argue that it ignores the power of the ruling class to make and enforce laws.


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