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18 Cards in this Set

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Mertons strain theory
5 modes of adapting to strain caused by the restricted access to socially approved goals and means
Goals: socially approved or antisocial
Means: legitimate or illegitimate
author of strain/anomie theorie
conforminty (strain/anomie)
the most common mode of adaptation. Individuals accept both the goals as well as the prescribed means for achieving those goals.
Conformists will accept, though not always achieve, the goals of society and the means approved for achieving them
innovation (STRAIN/ANOMIE)
accept societal goals but have few legitimate means to achieve those goals, thus they innovate (design) their own means to get ahead.
The means to get ahead may be through robbery, embezzlement or other such criminal acts.
individuals abandon the goals they once believed to be within their reach and dedicate themselves to their current lifestyle.
They play by the rules and have a daily safe routine.
retreatism (strain/anomie)
the adaptation of those who give up not only the goals but also the means.
They often retreat into the world of alcoholism and drug addiction. They escape into a non-productive, non-striving lifestyle.
Rebellion (strain/anomie)
occurs when the cultural goals and the legitimate means are rejected.
Individuals create their own goals and their own means, by protest or revolutionary activity.
5 modes of adapting to strain in strain/anomie theory
1. rebellion
2. retreatism
3. conformity
4. innovation
5. ritualism
def. 2 theories anomie and strain
First, a theory of anomie, referring to a de-institutionalization of norms that occurs when there is a disjunction between the emphasis on cultural goals and institutional means (Merton 1938:673, 1968a:189).
Second, Merton also presents a strain theory of deviant behavior which holds that people are more likely to pursue illegitimate means to attaining culturally prescribed goals when they are blocked from accessing the institutionalized means to these goals.
Borrowing a term sociologically introduced by Durkheim (1893), Merton adopts the anomie concept as part of his effort to suggest that biological explanations of deviant behavior are inadequate to explain social reality
instead structural conditions should be considered as inducing deviation from prescribed patterns of conduct.
One definition of anomie provided by Merton refers to “a literal demoralization, i.e., a de-institutionalization, of the means” which is the consequence of a dissociation between cultural goals and institutional norms
Anomie has often been believed to refer to a general imbalance between cultural goals and the legitimate ways to achieve those goals. That is clearly not the case, for Merton’s concept of anomie refers to “a specific imbalance where cultural goals are overemphasized at the expense of institutionalized means”…thus
“the integration of society becomes tenuous and anomie ensuesIt is important to understand Merton’s concept of anomie and not mistake it as a structural situation of blocked opportunities.
Merton’s concept of anomie can be regarded as a disjunction between universal American goals and the lack of access to these goals but this situation is more relevant to Merton’s theory of strain rather than his theory of anomie.
societal anomie
when society places a greater stress on achieving the culturally preferred goals (whatever they are) but does not equally stress the approved norms regulating the means to achieve those goals, society is in a state of anomie.
Merton’s concept of anomie is concerned with the disparate emphasis which exists between cultural goals and institutionalized means.
More narrowly defined anomie is said to exist when the “cultural (or idiosyncratic) exaggeration of the success-goal leads men to withdraw emotional support from the rules
micro v. macro (anomie/strain)
Merton explains the concept of anomie at the structural or macro level in terms of the peculiar constellation of the cultural structure of the United States.
Merton then analyzes how individuals adjust to the patterns of goals and means in one of five different ways.
Merton attempts to span both macro-social and micro-social levels of analysis
Through analyzing the individual-level consequences (micro) of cultural and social-structural (macro) phenomena
class structure anomie/strain
According to Merton, this differentiation and its consequences are not randomly distributed across society.
The class structure operates in such a way that “the greatest pressures towards deviation are exerted upon the lower strata” (Merton 1968:198).
For while the success value is dominant across society, legitimate means are not at the same time equally accessible: “It is the combination of the cultural emphasis and the social structure which produces intense pressure for deviation
social struture anomie/strain
The deviant form of innovation is disproportionately present in those strata where legal opportunities for reaching the cultural goals are less or not accessible.
The dominance of the success theme in American culture
influences persons who are blocked from reaching the “wealth goals” of society and they will often employ illegal methods for attaining monetary success (Merton 1938:679).
it is the social structure that is postulated to be putting pressure on individuals to commit crime.
Merton postulated pressures that were mediated through a stratified class structure as the primary structural reason for why individuals commit deviant and potentially criminal acts.
“Owing to their objectively disadvantaged position in the group,” Merton (1968b) writes, “some individuals are subjected more than others to the strains arising from the discrepancy between cultural goals and effective access to their realization. They are consequently more vulnerable to deviant behavior
means v. goals. anomie/strain
Assumes that people will exclusively pursue legitimate means to success if they have the opportunity.
If not, people will engage in behaviors they otherwise would not engage in: crime and deviance
dissproportionate focus on goals anmone/strain
Emotional convictions cluster around socially acclaimed goals
May generate counter-mores and antisocial behavior as a result of differential emphases on goals and regulations
Extreme example: use of the most effective means (legitimate or not) to achieve the goal.
Result: lack of societal integration and we see anomie ensue
Winning is more important than how you play the game.
Proposition: The extreme emphasis on the accumulation of wealth as a symbol of success negatively influences the effective control of legal modes of obtaining wealth.
what is conformaty anomie/strain
Most common, without this the stability and continuity of the society could not be maintained.
Conventional role behavior oriented toward basic values is the rule
what is retreatism anomie/strian
Rejection of both goals and means
In the society but not of the society
Alien- Addicts, alcoholics, psychotics, outcasts, tramps
Occurs when both the culture goals and means have been accepted and have high value but the means are not available to the individual.
Two fold mental conflict: moral obligation to conform to the means conflicts with the pressure to attain the goal as the individual is shut off from the legitimate means but refuses the illegitimate means
Results in frustration, defeatism, use of escape mechanisms
Elimination of both goals and means