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Anomie or “Strain” Theories. Merton Agnew Messner and Rosenfeld. Durkhiem’s Legacy. Rapidly Changing Society “Industrial Prosperity” Anomie (Norms are Weakened). Human Nature as Insatiable; must therefore cap or control Social Ties Important. The Anomie/Strain Tradition (Today).

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anomie or strain theories

Anomie or “Strain” Theories

Merton

Agnew

Messner and Rosenfeld

durkhiem s legacy
Durkhiem’s Legacy

Rapidly Changing

Society

“Industrial Prosperity”

Anomie

(Norms are Weakened)

Human Nature as

Insatiable; must

therefore cap or control

Social Ties Important

The Anomie/Strain Tradition

(Today)

The Social Disorganization and “Informal Control” Tradition (Last Class)

robert k merton
Robert K. Merton
  • Social Structure and Anomie (1938)
  • From Durkheim: Institutionalized norms are weakened in societies that place an intense value on economic success
  • Applied this to the United States
    • The “American Dream”
conflict means and goals
Conflict: Means and Goals
  • Cultural Goal in U.S.?
    • This goal is universal
    • (The American Dream)
  • Institutionalized Means?
    • Due to the social structure in the U.S., the means are unequally distributed
    • Segment of society with no way to attain goal
strain theory micro level

MODES OF CULTURAL INSTITUTIONALIZED ADAPTATION GOALS MEANS

1. Conformity + +

2. Innovation + -

3. Ritualism - +

4. Retreatism - -

5. Rebellion +/- +/-

Strain Theory (Micro Level)
criticisms of merton s strain theory
Criticisms of Merton’s Strain Theory
  • Is crime a “lower class” phenomena?
  • Cannot explain “expressive” crimes
  • Weak empirical support
  • Why do people “adapt” differently?
agnew general strain theory
Agnew: General Strain Theory
  • Overhaul of Merton’s Strain Theory
  • Three sources of strain
    • Failure to achieve valued goals
    • Removal of valued stimuli
    • Can’t escape noxious stimuli
agnew gst
Agnew (GST)
  • StrainNegative Affective States
    • Anger, fear, frustration, depression
  • In lieu of “Coping Mechanisms,” anger and frustration can produce delinquency
  • StrainNeg EmotionalDelinquency
agnew gst1
Agnew (GST)
  • Tests of GST are more favorable
  • Is this theory a theory of “Strain” (in a sociological sense) or a theory of “STRESS?” (in a psychological sense)
crime and the american dream

CRIME AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

Messner and Rosenfeld

the legacy of merton
The Legacy of Merton
  • In “Social Structure and Anomie”:
    • “Modes of Adaptation” (micro)
    • Discussion of why U.S. might be crime prone (macro) than other countries
  • Messner and Rosefeld, in the 1980s, revisited the macro part of the theory
elements of the american dream
Elements of the “American Dream”
  • Achievement
  • Individualism
  • Universalism
  • The “fetishism” of money
  • These elements encourage “Anomic conditions”
the american dream produces anomie
THE AMERICAN DREAM PRODUCES ANOMIE
  • MERTON: Pursuit of financial success is “limited only by considerations of technical expediency.”
  • Lombardi: Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
institutions in society
Institutions in Society
  • Social institutions as the building blocks of society.
    • The Economy
    • The Polity
    • The Family
    • Education
key issue for m r
Key Issue for M & R
  • These institutions sometimes have conflicting goals and values.
  • All societies can therefore be characterized by their distinctive arrangements of institutions
  • The U.S.? Economy Dominates: we are a “MARKET SOCIETY”
indicators of economic dominance
Indicators of Economic Dominance
  • Devaluation of non-economic institutional functions and roles
  • Accommodation to economic requirements by other social institutions
  • Penetration of economic norms into other social domains
implications of economic dominance
Implications of Economic Dominance
  • Weak institutional controls
    • Family and School are handicapped in efforts to promote allegiance to social rules
    • Single parent families
    • Poorly funded schools
    • “Weak institutions invite challenge”
culture social structure and crime rates
Culture, Social Structure, and Crime Rates

CULTURE

The American Dream

ANOMIE

SOCIAL STRUCTURE

Economic Dominance

Weak Institutional Controls

HIGH CRIME RATES