Robert Merton Stain Theory

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Robert Merton’s Anomie/Strain Theory
James King Jr.
Savannah State University

Theories of Criminal Behavior
Prof. W. Brooks
March 4, 2012

Since the beginning of mankind criminality has been a major problem and the most debated topic of interest by theorist on the grounds of why crime is committed, who is more prone to commit crime, and what prevents people from committing delinquent acts. The formulation of the Stain theory and Anomie Theory by Robert Merton give insight on the many question left unanswered about the reason for criminality. The Strain Theory decodes the mechanics of crime committed as being social structures in any given society pressuring its citizens to commit crime. This theory states that lower class frustrations of not having the means to reach legitimate goals turn to illegitimate means in critical times. Merton’s Theory of Anomie also which falls under the Strain Theory in that class oriented societies of how factors such as race, class, ethnicity, gender, and age is linked to inequality in terms of money, power, education, and social prestige. This research increases our understanding of such causes of deviant behavior and hopefully finds innovative ways to diagnose and deter crime.

The structural functionalist perspective by Emile Durkheim introduced the term anomie in which, Robert Merton also related his crime problem to anomie, thus formulation the strain theory. Robert Merton model of anomie and social arrangement has been willingly accepted as a helpful hypothesis, for the study of deviant crimes and behaviors. Merton argues that in a class oriented society opportunities to get to the top are not evenly distributed, and people take on deviant behaviors when the two factors of structural institutionalized means and cultural aspirations come into play. The structural factor plays a huge role in strains in which, there are unequal opportunities for the individuals in the society to succeed. To better understand how...
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