Anomie and Strain

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  • Created by: rachel
  • Created on: 18-05-13 15:34
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  • Anomie and Strain
    • Background
      • Crime caused by factors external to the individual
      • The industrial revolution and rapid urbanisation
      • Statistics and the scientific study of populations
    • Positivism and sociological explanations of crime
      • Durkheim: Social Integration
        • Anomie as breakdown or lack of norms and values 'normlessness' due to rapid social changes
        • Crime is a factor in public health, an integral part of all societies
        • Is "criminal" acts stopped - they wouldn't disappear, but just  change form
        • Suicide
      • Merton: Social anomie and strain
        • Ambition promotes deviant behaviour
        • Dominant pressure of group standards of success in the context of; a gradual reduction in legitimate means and an increased use of illegitimate means
        • "a breakdown in the cultural structure, occurring particularly when there is an acute dis-junction between cultural norms and goals and the social structured capacities of members of the group to act in accord with them."
        • Most people feel strain between the cultural goal (a nice house) and the institutional means of achieving it (well paid job)
        • Typology of modes of individual adaptation to strain
          • Conformity: Individuals accept the culturally defined goal of material wealth and the institutional means of achieving it
          • Ritualism: Individuals become preoccupied with institutional means whilst losing sight of the ultimate goal
          • Retreatism: Individuals reject both the goal of material means and institutional means
          • Rebellion: Individuals reject both the goal and means but seek to replace these with new goals and means
          • Innovation: Individuals accept the goal of material wealth but reject the available institutional means
    • Agnew: Merton's theory doesn't focus on lower class crime as it's preoccupied with goals of middle-class wealth and status. It also doesn't suggest why those experiencing strain do not commit crime.
      • General theory of strain
        • Failure to achieve personal goals
        • Actual / anticipated removal of positive stimuli
        • Experience or anticipation of negative stimuli
        • Crime as a means of coping with negative stimuli
      • Factors that increase the relationship between strain and crime
        • Perceived injustice of strain
        • Difficulty of managing a critical mass of strain through legitimate means
        • Reduction of social control
        • Where strains facilitate criminal coping
      • Major straing = negative emotions = crime
    • Messner and Rosenfield
      • American dream promotes
        • Achievement (winners and losers) Individualism (rights over responsibilities) Materialism (individual wealth) Universalism (persuasive character)
    • Evaluation
      • Usefulness
      • Empirical validity
      • Testability
      • Parsimony
      • Logical consistency
      • Scope


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