Merton Strain Theory (Key Study)

Who made strain theory?
Merton
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What type of theory is Merton part of?
Functionalist
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Did Merton believe everyone could achieve these goals?
No, he was aware not everyone shared the same goals, in a stratified society the goals are linked to a person's position in society - lower down had restricted goals
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How did he think the system worked?
It worked well if the majority of people can achieve their goals
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What happens if the majority don't achieve their goals?
Anomie - They became dienchanted with society and seek out alternative (often deviant) ways of behaving
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What is strain?
The different forms of behaviour between goals and means
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How many different ways do people respond to the strain?
5
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What are the ways people respond to the strain?
Conformity (Obeys goals and means despite limited success chances), Innovation (May use criminal behaviour to achieve goals), Ritualism (Means used but goal lost), Retreatism (Rejects goals&means), Rebellion (Goals&means rejected, own ones used)
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Who criticized Merton and what for?
Taylor et al (Neo Marxists) - Fails to consider wider power relations in society, who makes laws and who benefits from them
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What are some other criticisms of Merton?
Assumes that - value consensus in US society, people only deviate because of structural strain in society, most crime by w/c, crime is individual response (ignores subcultures)
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Another crit?
Taylor, Walton & Young - Theory cannot explain politically motivated crime where law broken for cause (eg rich workers stop system changing to benefit poor)
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Who defends Merton and how?
Reiner - Theory adapted to take crits into account - All crimes indirectly related to status
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Who is influenced by Merton?
Young (The Vertigo of Late Modernity) - Contradiction of consumer culture and institutes that fail to deliver such success to majority leads to anomie and violent crime
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Card 2

Front

What type of theory is Merton part of?

Back

Functionalist

Card 3

Front

Did Merton believe everyone could achieve these goals?

Back

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Card 4

Front

How did he think the system worked?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What happens if the majority don't achieve their goals?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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