AQA Sociology A2 - Merton Strain Theory

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1. What is Retreatism?

  • Where individuals carry on using legitimate means, but no longer have any goals to aspire towards.
  • Where individuals drop out of society's expectations by abandoning cultural goals and legitimate means.
  • Where individuals replace goals and means with their own ideals to try and reform society.
  • Where individuals attempt to achieve a goal in society, but face too many barriers and retreat back to Ritualism.
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2. What is the main issue with Merton's approach to Strain Adaptations?

  • Individuals might be able to slot into more than 1 adaptation
  • The difference between Rebellion/Retreatism is practically non-existent.
  • There are some people who don't fit into any adaptation.
  • He failed to account for those of ethnic backgrounds.

3. Which of these groups of people would be classed as "Rebellions"?

  • The Under Class
  • Drug Addicts
  • Hippies
  • Dead-End Office Workers

4. Which of these is NOT a criticism of Merton's work (all others are)?

  • It doesn't offer explanation for delinquent subcultures.
  • He provided no statistical evidence towards his theory.
  • He assumes value consensus on society's goals.
  • He used statistics at face value ("the tip of the iceberg").
  • It can't explain why genocide, violence, vandalism etc. occur.
  • He ignores the power of the ruling class to enforce laws that criminalise the poor, but not the rich.

5. What are the 2 main factors that contribute towards strain?

  • Cultural factors & structural factors
  • Structural factors & conformist factors
  • Cultural factors & social factors
  • Structural factors & socialisation factors


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