Anomie Theory: Force and Fear by Frederick J. Desroches

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The goal of this scholarly paper is to apply Robert Merton’s anomie theory to the research findings in Force and Fear by Frederick J. Desroches and The Crime That Pays by Frederick J. Desroches. Anomie theory will be briefly defined and his main theoretical argument will be explained. Robert Merton’s concept of innovation will be used to explain criminal activity. The anomie theory will also be criticized for its flaws because every theory is not perfect. The relevant variables will be identified and analyzed with respect to the impact that they have on the theory. Lastly, the offenders’ viewpoint will be analyzed and explained as to why they do not deter from committing these crimes. Emile Durkheim argues that our levels of aspiration are controlled by society and a de-regulation of these controls can lead to a situation of anomie. Robert Merton also argues that people can learn their goals and aspirations from society; culturally approved goals and culturally approved means. Merton focuses upon two elements of the social structure –culturally approved goals and culturally approved means- and argues that lower class persons find themselves in a situation of anomie. According to Merton, society’s general goal is to be financially successful; however legitimate means for attaining that goal for most lower class persons are blocked. The lower class have less education/job opportunities to achieve monetary success and find themselves in a situation of anomie. They are under pressure or strain and many thus choose illegitimate means by which to obtain their goals. Innovation is the acceptance of the cultural goals and a rejection of legitimate means because these means are blocked. The lower class persons feel as if they have no other choice but to use illegitimate means to obtain the culturally approved goals. This is the common view of utilitarian crime such as theft, robbery and drug trafficking.

In the first research study which is Force and Fear by...
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