How Useful Is Robert Merton's Anomie Theory?

This essay is about how exactly Robert Merton theory makes up about criminal offense and deviance in just a contemporary society. I'll look at how he believes crime is a result of an ambitious contemporary society, and if we can blame offense on the wider population and not on the deviant themselves. I will show how Merton and also Durkheim (1958-1917) build their ideas of crime from different ideas, However, both use the idea of `anomie' (also referred to as 'stress theory') in their bet to make clear the negatives of contemporary society and the effect it is wearing the individuals who live here in retrospect to criminal offense. I will take a look at the different solutions each functionalist uses to explain anomie, and exactly how it fits in with their ideas of contemporary society. I am going to also look at the way they both agree on this theory, but differ on its initial causes. I also investigate how both assume that criminal offense at some stage is a normal integral part of your contemporary culture, and a result of ones self, nevertheless they differ onto it value to culture.

Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist and functionalist, presented the concept of anomie in his book The Department of Labour in Society, shared in 1893. He used anomie to describe a lack of morale that was developing in population. Durkheim's book was first published 119 years back however astonishingly his theories can be applied to today's contemporary contemporary society. Anomie is circumstances were interpersonal norms are in turmoil. They are vague and puzzled or even perhaps not present. Durkheim highly felt this was a reason behind deviance. In 1897 Durkheim used the idea again in his research on suicide.

http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/week8. htm

Durkheim's One Cause of Suicide, Barclay D. Johnson, American Sociological Review, Vol. 30, No. 6 (December. , 1965), pp. 875-886, Posted by: American Sociological Association

Merton works within the entire functionalist perspective which puts a great deal of focus on the role of society, especially its merging aspects, it declares that criminal offense and deviance is a positive attribute to contemporary society due to numerous aspects which I will delve into further on in this essay. Merton now adapts a concept he adopts from the booklet 'suicide' written by the functionalist, Durkheim in 1897. Durkheim immensely important that it is not the average person but culture that creates deviance. He explained that "Crime can be an integral part of society". He continued to help expand say a deviant may be viewed as a visionary to society which deviance strengthens population by bringing neighborhoods along in times of crisis. In order to illustrate the value of collective makes on the average person, Durkheim examined the main topic of suicide.

In Durkheim's work, anomie described a situation where social norms in a contemporary society breakdown because of quick rapid change. He explained that rapid interpersonal change disrupts such norms and control buttons producing anomie, characterised by agitation, dissatisfaction, anxiety and an array of other characteristics relative to suicide and other deviance. Anomic suicide, for example is because the economic routine. This can occur during a major economic depression including the much recent recession, when people are not able to achieve the goals that they have learned to follow, but it can also take place when the current economic climate experiences a sudden and individuals once reasonable dreams are now easy to attain if not already achieved plus they no longer have goals or something to work at, also people have no idea how to limit their aspirations and be content with their successes. Merton however changes Durkheim's theory just a bit, to refer to a situation where there is an apparent insufficient adequacy between the culture's norms about what constitutes success in life, goals, and the culture's norms about the correct ways to attain those goals otherwise known as the means.

Durkheim, E, Spaulding, j, Suicide: A Study in Sociology, Free Press; Reissue release (11 May 2010)

Merton's undertake anomie became the explanation for extremely high rates of deviant behaviour occurring in the United States compared with other societies, and also provided a conclusion for the get spread around of deviant behavior across groups defined by class, competition, ethnicity and gender. Merton views america as a polar exemplory case of a society in which aspiration and goals are a fundamental element of population and pressure is put after the people of America to purpose towards an objective, however the goal is already set, The American Dream. The sociable structure in America, is however, characterised by major divisions and harsh economic inequality. Along with this huge department in public classes, people are also criticised as being quitters if they diminish their goals. Alternatively, however, the culture is at best indecisive in its norms about the correct means of achieving success. Effort in school and then in the economic workplace are favoured and are the culturally approved means of success, but additionally, there is an component of understanding for the successful rogue who breaks the rules using immoral or against the law avenues and still achieves success.

The final result is more appreciated then the trip to make it happen, so sometimes a blind vision can be considered certain corners that may be cut in order to achieve success. An extremely successful billion pound American company has recently been open for how it reduces corners to obtain high revenues; no person asked how they were so successful until it was challenged. Some people saying Starbucks experienced a very good financial consultant as they were actually 'not doing anything unlawful' but morally it was incorrect. Starbucks were very happy to keep their tax avoidance routines knowing it was probably immoral, however just a bit this has tarnished Starbucks they are still a success history and whatever methods they are simply doing now is merely to safeguard the brand, not because they feel they have a moral duty. In America, in other words, success is probably rated a lot more highly than virtue. http://www. guardian. co. uk/business/2012/dec/03/amazon-google-starbucks-tax-avoidance

A Critical Take a look at Merton's Anomie Theory, Alex Thio, The Pacific Sociological Review, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Apr. , 1975), pp. 139-158, Released by: University of California Press.

The Legacy of Anomie Theory: Developments in Criminological Theory, Freda A. Adler, William S. Laufer, Robert Ruler Merton, Transaction Publishers, 1 Nov 1999

In addition, the United States, along with all the countries has minority groups whose access to success by typical means is clearly limited. In the time in which Merton was writing, Culture all together was a clearly racist. Black Us citizens were significantly limited when it came to education and the work area. Even so, the same goals were not just emphasised to the white middle class American however to all of their contemporary society, Thus therefore creates an influx in criminal offenses as people deal with at all to achieve their dreams, the collective American wish. http://www. criminology. fsu. edu/crimtheory/merton. htm

Tony Soprano's America: The Felony Side of the North american Dream, David R. Simon, Perseus Catalogs Group, 2 Mar 2004

In order for individuals to respond to this disjunction of goals and means, Merton created a typology of adaptations.

The to begin these being a conformist. Most individuals in society are conformists, they recognize the culturally defined goals and choose these of their means, they then continue to go after them using respectable means of reaching them through the socially-acceptable strategies of educational and occupational growth and work diligently. A good example of this being University students wanting a degree and successful job at work, however utilizing their available methods to pay for the study and achieve these goals. Although many citizens; majority being working school and lower middle income, are unlikely to achieve the desired, unrealistic ends, they follow social rules anyways and "grin and tolerate it" (Winfree & Abadinsky) without deviation or grievance. When struggling to achieve their goals or even to achieve "success", they claim responsibility for such failures themselves ("I didn't are hard as I could have at school"), and continue to conform to cultural expectations.

The second possible a reaction to Merton's anomie is the fact that of advancement. Merton thought that much of criminal behavior could be categorised as "innovative". Innovators are people who tend to acknowledge the goals of modern culture for success and sociable status however lack the method of attaining such goals and for that reason decide on immoral, illegitimate and deviant techniques in order to achieve these. Gomme explained that a good exemplory case of an innovator was a medicine supplier or a 'gangster' who perhaps result from a working school background who want to attain prosperity and success however lack the brains and money which is required to achieve such goals, then they maintain their goals but use socially unacceptable means to complete these dreams. Innovators, however, aren't automatically violent or serious offenders: people who lay about their work experience or educational track record on employment program can also fall under this category, These acts are not criminal or illegally wrong however these individuals want to become successful through immoral socially undesirable means.

Another of Merton's possible explanations to anomie is called ritualism. The ritualist accepts a lifestyle of effort and ambition, but rejects the social goal of deferred gratification. This individual undergoes the avenues of getting an education and spending so much time, and therefore gets the means, yet is not committed to the goal of accumulating riches or social position. Ritualists ease the strain of anomie by lessening their own dreams of success to a point where goals are usually more attainable. They recognize their public position, and regularly obey the road they are required to follow. Ritualists tend to avoid taking any hazards and are comfortable living within the confines of daily exercises, for example a mundane job etc. without complaining or trying for better. Ritualists are fearful of rejection and failing, so therefore do not arranged themselves up for one in order to not get injured. As Gomme identifies, "for ritualists, the means become ends in themselves", A tele internet marketer for example may be more comfortable with the data of not attaining wealth or status of their field of work, they are simply almost fearful of having to bottom part their life on potential customers and a wish and therefore almost 'make do' using their current situation.

The fourth explanation is retreatism. Retreatists make a more dramatic a reaction to the strain of anomie, which is generally a permanent procedure. The stress and stress and anxiety of the forced upon expectations of communal 'success' through classic and traditional strategies forces the given individual to essentially 'give up'. They almost withraw from society as the average person rejects both the ethnic goals of success and the socially respectable means of obtaining it. . The retreatist cleans away themselves or retreats from contemporary society and may become an alcoholic, drug addict, or vagrant. They haven't any means no goal and have no ambition to improve this. . As Durkheim discovered, suicide can be seen as the "ultimate retreat".

The fifth kind of version to anomie layed out by Merton is rebellion. Rebellion is seen as the most intimidating and dangerous reaction to population. Rebellion occurs when a person rejects both culturally described goals and means and substitute's new goals and means. For instance, gang members may make a fresh goal of increasing electric power in their gang and using violence and other illegal activities to do this. When alienated from population and social structures, rebels propose new goals and means for success. Their view of success differs from the usual law abiding citizen. Rebels may advocate new categories and work together to realize success, perhaps by radical terrorist episodes; suicide bombings. Population however might not exactly be to blame for such radical movements as religion is at the forefront of terrorism.

Siegel, L, Criminology: Ideas, Patterns, and Typologies, Cengage Learning, 18 Jan 2012

Lauri Taylor however criticises Merton's typology and compares it to her own theory of any fruit machine what's rigged.

She mentioned that Conformists play the fruits machine and delude themselves thinking that it is good. She stated that we are fooling ourselves having dreams that are more catered to society rather than an indivual goal for our own self applied. Although a criticism of Taylor's way is perhaps there has to be a process for quickness of your time and inexpensive reasons. Whether this is because you want to be accepted by world or for a constant easy life with no trauma.

Taylor stated that the second reaction to anomie, innovators, make an effort to 'rig' the berry machine in their benefit. Perhaps this can be an alternative approach to gaining success but can still in the end fail even as we are stuck in the confines of population. Even though the people who evaluate what serves are against the law are those in the bourgeoisie, were crime is being devoted daily; corporate veil, nonetheless it goes unseen. Possibly the goals and the means aren't consistent with one another which is purposely lay out as the upper classes wish to restrain those of a less cultural position from obtaining success and riches.

The third procedure, ritualism, as mentioned by Taylor is played out blindly and obsessively by the ritualist. Ritualists do not like taking risks and therefore play the super fruit machine blindly. They therefore never win any prize, nor have any expectation of receiving any reward. They are very content with their life, nor desire to be burdened with any goals or dreams which they must bottom their life or work on. There is no end goal, they are simply ultimately like a hamster in a wheel working rather than getting any reward.

Retreatists as mentioned by Taylor, disregard the lifestyle of the fruit machine. They almost live a day to day life with no sight of an near future. They haven't any end goal and wish to not any persue any dreams.

Lastly, rebels. They smash the fruit machine and re build it in their favour matching to Laura Taylor. They have got the same goals; obtaining a prize from the berries machine, however lack the method of attaining such success so therefore use an alternative way; re building the machine, in order to gain a prize, there is certainly however, no certainty of the prize by the end from it.

Page 192, Durkheim and Modern Sociology, Steve Fenton, Glass Archive, 19 Jul 1984

Page 101,

Understanding Deviance: A Guide to the Sociology of Offense and Rule-Breaking, David M. Downes, Paul Elliott Rock, Oxford University Press, 2007

This article has reviewed whether Merton's theory of anomie can provide a knowledge for the reasons behind crime in a contemporary society. It has generated that the goals and dreams create by modern culture have a major effect on the average person and also that in a whole lot of cases the means do not coincide with the goals and therefore people take a different avenue to have success, whether this being legal or outlawed. Contemporary modern culture has made wealth, education and success achievable for everyone classes, genders, races and age ranges. Because these goals are now available to everybody, this has created an influx in criminal offense credited to more competition and more people aspiring for the appropriate goals. Furthermore with the new coalition government's abolishing of the education maintenance allowance and the backpacking up of College or university fees has recommended there is more stream lining and again only the wealthy can be regarded as achieving their goals which could result in an increase in 'anomie' amongst the people who lack the money and are at a downside who are unable to access advanced schooling. Merton''s Anomie Theory however has come under criticism because of the overlook of Richard Quinney's discord theory, "criminal offense in the suites". Crimes by the prosperous and powerful seem to be never to be reviewed. Merton also appears to change a blind eye to Cloward and Ohlen's research on illegitimate opportunities and labelling theory and exactly how this perhaps gives an understanding on individuals committing criminal offenses. This essay therefore concludes that anomie is a reasonable explanation for crime in contemporary culture.

A Critical Look at Merton's Anomie Theory, Alex Thio, The Pacific Sociological Review, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Apr. , 1975), pp. 139-158, Published by: College or university of California Press

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