Functional and Inevitable Boundary Maintenance/Adaptation and Change Anomie- a sense of moral confusion that weakens commitment to shared values and rules encouraging C&D
The American Dream emphasises ‘money success’. Americans are expected to pursue this goal by legitimate means e.g. education, hard work The ideology claims that American Society is meritocratic but in reality poverty and discrimination block opportunities for may to achieve by legitimate means The strain between goals and the lack of legitimate opportunities produces frustration and a pressure to resort to illegitimate means
Ritualism results from being strongly socialized to conform to expected behaviours
Merton doesn’t explain why some individuals commit crime, yet others conform, retreat or rebel Merton’s theory explains crime that results in economic gain, but he does not explain many forms of violent and sexual crimes He also fails to explain crimes committed by young people in gangs, which do not seem to be motivated by material goals White-collar and Corporate crime arises from access to opportunities rather than blocking them Merton fails to ask who benefits from the capitalist system and especially the laws that underpin it. Marxists, like Steven Box, suggest that the ruling capitalist class benefits most from the way laws are currently organised. However Sumner claims that Merton uncovered the main cause of crime in modern societies- the alienation caused by disillusionment with the impossible goals set by capitalism.
WEAKNESSES: he neglects the bigger questions of ‘who makes the laws in society’ and assumes that there is one overarching value consensus in a country as massive as America. It also over-predicts and exaggerates working class crime while underestimating middle class crime.
L2 mertons strain theory
Mertons Strain Theory
Lesson Objectives• Understand an alternative explanation to C&D (Merton)• Introduce 5 responses to anomie• Be able to evaluate Merton’s explanations
Last Lesson Recap• What are the two key points that Durkheim said crime was?• And why?• What are the two positive functions of crime?• How does ‘9/11’ illustrate the positive functions of crime that Durkheim identifies?• What other functions of Crime exist?• What is anomie
Merton• Read pages 74-75 down to the heading ‘Deviant adaptations to strain’. Using the ideas from this section, draw a diagram showing how Merton explains why some people commit deviant acts.
• Strain Theories argue people engage in deviant behaviour when they are unable to achieve socially approved goals by legitimate means.• Deviance is a result of a strain between:1. The goals that a culture encourages individuals to achieve2. What the institutional structure of society allows them to achieve legitimately
He used the lifestyle concept of the American Dream which places great emphasis on material success.
In Western societies there are cultural goals that we’re all socialised to want like big cars, big houses, splendid holidays etc…
Merton – The American Dream and Strain TheoryMerton outlined five possible ways that members ofAmerican society could respond to success goals: Ritualism Retreatism Innovation Rebellion and Conformity
• Conformist: Here the individual continues to adhere to both goals and means legitimately (M/C)
Innovation - accepting the goals but rejecting the institutionalised means. Uses different ways to achieve those goals. Criminal behaviour is included in this response (Theft, Fraud) Stuart Howatson, 31, of Bewdley, Worcestershire, duped his wife, family andfriends into believing he was a Scotland Yard officer. Over several years, Howatson detailed his"career" to friends. While on holiday in Spain, he convinced a friend that he could buy theirproperty for £720,000 without a mortgage. He said he had come into an inheritance and supplied false bank statements and monthly deposits from the Metropolitan police andMPA (Metropolitan Police Authority) to prove his finances were sound, Worcester crown court heard.
• Ritualism: stop trying to achieve goals but internalized legitimate means so follow rules e.g. stay in dead end job
• Retreatism: Here the individual rejects both goals and means. This person is dependent upon drugs or alcohol is included in this form of behaviour.
• Rebellion: Both the socially sanctioned goals and means are rejected and different ones substituted. To bring about revolutionary change & create a new society e.g. hippies
Which of Merton’s types are the following criminals?• Drug addict• A man who supports his family and chases promotion so he can buy a bigger family home• Bank robbers• Terrorists• Which type is missing…give an example
Evaluation of Merton Shows how normal and deviant behaviour can arise from same mainstream goals• How does he explain patterns shown in OCS?• Most crime is property crime, because American society values material wealth so highly• Lower class crime rates are higher, because they have least opportunity to obtain wealth legitmiately
On the sheet are a number of partlycompleted statements relating to thestrengths and weaknesses of strain theory.Your task is to:1. complete the statements by selecting the appropriate finishing clauses from those provided2. write a three lined commentary explaining each statement (can use textbook to assist)
• Using key words below summarise what you have learnt today KEY CONCEPT: value consensus; anomie; cultural goals; institutionalised means; conformity; innovation; ritualism; retreatism; rebellion.
• Have a go at annotating the part of the overview diagram which covers Merton. Try to do most of this from memory.