Merton's Strain theory - Crime and deviance

  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 23-04-15 17:10
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  • Merton's Strain Theory
    • Strain theories argue that people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means
    • Anomie was seen as an integral part of modern American society
      • What caused this anomie was not a lack of social regulation but the recurring contrast between:
        • a) The goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve (money success) - A cultural factor
        • b) The limitations of what the institutional structures of society allows people to achieve - A structural factor
    • Anomie is  a situation where socially approved goals of a society are not available to a substantial proportion of the population if they followed socially approved means
      • The resulting strain between the cultural goal of money success and the lack of legitimate opportunities to achieve it produces frustration and this is turn creates a pressure to resort to illegitimate means - the strain to anomie
        • Winning the game becomes more important than playing by the rules.
    • Evaluation
      • Marxists argue that ignores the power of the ruling class to make and enforce the laws in ways that criminalise the working class
      • His model is extremely individualistic.He fails to examine shared patterns - e.g. subcultures


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