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Outline and evaluate Merton’s theory of Anomie.

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Outline and evaluate Merton's theory of Anomie 1) Anomie is a state of normlessness first coined by Robert K Merton, an American functionalist sociologist borrowed Durkheim s concept of Anomie to form his own theory called Strain Theory Merton argued that the real problem is not created by a sudden social change as Durkheim proposed, but rather by a social structure that holds out the sane goals to all its members without giving them equal means of achieving them. It is the lack of combining between what the culture calls for and what the structure permits that causes deviant behaviour. Merton uses Durkheims notion of Anomie to describe the breakdown of the normative system. 2) Merton argues that the American dream, which suggests that success is achievable through hard work and discipline has a significant effect on whether or not some groups commit crime. ...read more.


Retreatists are those who have abandoned both the goals and the means of achieving them. This is where the individual withdraws from society for example into a world of drugs, alcohol abuse or some other deviant behaviour. Rebels (last) are those who reject societies goals and the accepted means of achieving them and replace them with their own for example joining a rebel group of some kind. Merton argues deviance arises in response to status frustration when the approves ways of achieving success don't correspond with an individuals situation. In turn this results in anomie. ************************************************************************* 4) Many sociologists believe that the disadvantaged groups such as the underprivileged and lower working class have a little chance of achieving societies goals by acceptable means as they have been at a disadvantage in education and end up in a low paid employment. ...read more.


In Cohen's view, individuals join together for crimes such as joy riding and vandalism which do not result in a monetary reward. However he does agree that Merton's theory could help explain adult professional crime and some professional thieves. ************************************************************************* 6 - Conclusion In contrast many Marxists perceive crime as a natural outgrowth of capitalists society. They argue that by its very nature, the capitalist economic system generates crime. Sociologists such as William Chambliss, Mankoff, Pearce and Snider see the power as largely being held by those who own and control the means of production. This they maintain is reflected in the superstructure of society that mirrors the relationship between the ruling and the subject class. As part of the superstructure, Marxists believe that the state (the agencies of social control) reflect and serve ruling class interests, maintain its power and coerce and control the subject class. ************************************************************************* ...read more.

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