Retreatism: to reject both the cultural goals and the means to obtain it, then find a way to escape it. Use Strain Theory to define and explain the following: The theft of a loaf of bread by a hungry person The Continuing Relevance of Strain Theory . The functionalist and strain theories both show some relationship between deviance and social structure. He argued that when people cannot attain the "legitimate goal" of economic success through "legitimate means"—dedication and hard work—they may turn to illegitimate means of doing so. The Strain Theory, developed by Robert Merton, suggests that people who find their way blocked and do not experience equal opportunity are more likely to follow a deviant path (Henslin, 229).They will easily find problems in the system and have a hard time accepting cultural norms. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Demonstrators celebrate the verdict in the murder trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 5, 2018. This situation puts great pressure on people to achieve material success by illegitimate means (acquisitive crime) to avoid being branded a failure. Structural Strain Theory . It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. Learn how your comment data is processed. It has withstood a half-century despite a sizeable amount of literature opposed to its theoretical basis. Merton believed that the society influences deviance and plays a huge role in criminals committing crimes. Merton’s Strain Theory quickly became one of the more popular Crime and Deviance positions. Deviance can be criminal or non‐criminal. Merton developed his theory from a well-established observation from official statistics – that a higher proportion of acquisitive crime is committed by those from unskilled manual backgrounds (or ‘lower social classes’). Income Inequality in the UK – Some Infographics. Running Head: Strain Theory Stain Theory Keisha Harris Valdosta State University The strain theory explains the criminal behavior and is a breakdown of why people commit crimes. These cookies do not store any personal information. Strain theory has become popular with Contemporary sociologists. Merton’s Strain theory argued deviation from social norms is a result of the strain a person feels when they’re unable to achieve legitimately (legally). Robert K. Merton discussed deviance in terms of goals and means as part of his strain/anomie theory. Critics note the theory's lack of statements concerning the process of learning deviance, including the internal motivators for deviance. Society sets standards of living through media, marketing, and education, yet it cannot supply the means for all classes to achieve these goals. Merton's strain theory. Functionalists believe deviance functions as a tool for society to define (or redefine) morality (Brym and Lie, 2007:195). The essay will start with the key features of each theory and then it will go into the main comparison of the two theories. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. numerous:mentally ill, homosexual, transgender, mentally delayed. "What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Merton's Strain Theory in Understanding Crime" paper focuses on the social strain theory. … Firstly,  not all working class individuals turn to crime, and so we need something else to explain why some of them do and some of them do not. When an individual in a society cannot achieve culturally approved goal via culturally approved ways, it can be stressful for him and may leads to deviant behavior. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Applying Strain Theory to the United States. MERTON’S THEORY OF DEVIANCE: (STRAIN THEORY) Merton in his theory of deviance indicates that deviants are not a cub-cultural group. The high rates of deviance, according to the anomie and strain theory, are because the option to achieve success is offered to everyone. 2. b. The medicalization of deviance can also be reversed. The ideas underlying strain theory were first advanced in the 1930s by American sociologist Robert K. Merton, whose work on the subject became especially influential in the 1950s. Merton argued that when individuals are faced with a gap between their goals (usually finances/money related) and their current status, strain occurs. This theory traces the origins of deviance to the tensions caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have available to achieve those goals. Merton’s Strain theory argued deviation from social norms is a result of the strain a person feels when they’re unable to achieve legitimately (legally). Strain theories= argue that deviance occurs when people cannot achieve society’s goals by legitimate means. Other consensus theories include: This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Strain theory explains deviant behavior as an inevitable outcome of the distress individuals experience when they're deprived of ways to achieve culturally valued goals. Lastly, rebellion applies to people who reject and replace culturally valued goals and the socially sanctioned ways of achieving them. In his discussion of deviance Merton proposed a typology of deviant behavior that illustrated the possible discrepancies between culturally defined goals and the institutionalized means available to achieve these goals. Merton typology of deviance was based on two criteria: (1) a person’s motivations or adherence to cultural goals; (2) a person’s belief in how to attain her goals. If you recall, social strain theory develops a typology of deviance in which an individual can deviate on two planes. Where Durkheim states that anomie is the confounding of social norms, Merton goes further and states that anomie is the state in which social goals and the legitimate means to … Deviance is best defined by which of the choices? These individuals may, therefore, be more likely to turn to unsanctioned methods to achieve economic success, though plenty of so-called "white-collar crime" routinely takes place in the U.S. too. This included things such as the American dream. Cesare Lombroso A biological interpretation of formal deviance was first advanced by the Italian School of Criminology, a school of thought originating from Italy during the mid-nineteenth century. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. Opportunity theory. In this essay I will analyse the importance and relevance of a structional functionalist view of deviance seen through the lens of strain theory and a symbolic interactionalist perspective through the use of labelling theory. Where Durkheim states that anomie is the confounding of social norms, Merton goes further and states that anomie is the state in which social goals and the legitimate means to achieve them do not correspond. Conformity: pursing cultural goals through socially approved means. In the history of modern criminology, few theories have realized the impact of Merton’s (1983) theory of strain and deviance. Merton believed there was a … Argues that crime is a result of people being socialised into expecting success but not achieving this success due to limited opportunities. Strain Theory argues that crime occurs when there aren’t enough legitimate opportunities for people to achieve the normal success goals of a society. Deviance : General Strain Theory For A Critical Approach Essay 1952 Words | 8 Pages. Retreatism explains those who reject a society's goals and refuse to try to obtain them. HOWEVER, Merton argued that for those from lower social classes, this ‘dream’ had become an ideology, masking the fact that the legitimate opportunities are not available to all, and worse, those who failed to achieve success via legitimate means were condemned for their apparent lack of effort. It is possible to apply Merton’s theory of anomie to explain White Collar Crime – white collar criminals (those who commit fraud at work, for example) might be those who are committed to achieving material success, but have had their opportunities for promotion blocked by lack of opportunities – possible through class, gender or ethnic bias, or possible just by the simple fact that the higher up the career ladder you go, the more competition for promotion there is. Baumer and Gustafson (2007) analysed official data sets in the USA and found that instrumental crime rates were higher in areas where there was a ‘high commitment to money success’ alongside a ‘weak commitment to legitimate means’.. Merton’s strain theory contends that crime is a result of the strain between the different classes in our culture. Marxists point out that lack of equality of opportunity is at the heart of the Capitalist system. The theory primarily pertains to formal deviance, using biological reasons to explain criminality, though it can certainly extend to informal deviance. Those who engage in illicit behavior to obtain economic success may simply be partaking in normal behaviors for individuals in their circumstances. Chapter 10 argues that strain theory fits the overall orientation of the consensus perspective. Merton’s Strain Theory quickly became one of the more popular Crime and Deviance positions. Throughout history, theories have been introduced to explain why deviance occurs and ways in which sociologists can predict it. Strain is the stress put on oneself from striving for success, but not being able to access it. Strain theory explains deviant behavior as an inevitable outcome of the distress individuals experience when they're deprived of ways to achieve culturally valued goals. In accordance with this micro side of anomie, the reduction in societal controls generates more desire to perform deviant actions (Agnew & Passas, 1997:2-3). This theory traces the origins of deviance to the tensions caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have available to achieve those goals. ” People consider an act to be a deviance act because of the three sociological theories: control theory, labeling theory and strain theory. Carl Nightingale: On the Edge – Carl Nightingale developed Merton’s Strain Theory, applying it to inner city youths in the 1990s. Robert K. Merton developed the structural strain theory as an extension of the functionalist perspective on deviance. A) The current definition of mental illness ... Strain theory proposes that when ___, people resort to deviant means to accomplish socially defined goals. The ‘American Dream’ encouraged individuals to pursue a goal of success which was largely measured in terms of the acquisition of wealth and material possessions. Strain Theory argues that crime occurs when there aren’t enough legitimate opportunities for people to achieve the normal success goals of a society. Merton noted that American society promoted material success as a ‘legitimate goal’, and encouraged self-discipline and hard work as the ‘legitimate means’ of pursuing that goal, with the idea that any individual, irrespective of their background could, with sufficient effort, achieve material success. Those in positions of power ensure that these institutions reflect their interests. 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