AQA Sociology A2 - Merton Strain Theory Criticisms

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Examining the disadvantages of "Strain Theory" proposed by Robert Merton

[Sorry if you find these to be a tad long, condense them if you wish. I am only explaining the disadvantages, not how to structure them into essay format.]

LAST UPDATED 21/09/2015. Provided a source for the UK crime statistics and added 3 more disadvantages.

1) Crime statistics are used at "face value" - It only provides a very small viewpoint of genuine crime and fails to account for crime that remains unrecorded, primarily corporate crimes which go unnoticed (despite the estimate $400 billion they cost the US each year) and also crimes that never get reported due to some form of stigma being attached to them (e.g. a male being *****).

2) Merton could argue against corporate crime by saying "there is no limit to wealth" - but this only weakens his argument. If there is no upper limit, where does the lower limit begin? This would consequently put everyone in a constant state of strain and conformists probably wouldn't exist at all. Merton fails to define the ideal point of wealth, just like Durkheim fails to define the ideal point of crime.

3) His argument is incredibly deterministic - he assumes that anyone under strain will essentially fit into an adaptation, but…


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