ideas drawn from Goode, 1994-2008 chapter 3; and Pfohl, Images of Deviance
and Social Control, 1985. See the disclaimer)
- Reconceptualizes Durkheim's
concept of Anomie.
- Not an overall, or even localized
breakdown in normative structure.
- The cultural system and social
structure of society is basically intact, workable, functional.
- In fact, to a certain extent,
Deviance represents the functionality of the system.
- Merton's "Dream
- Problem is:
A disjuncture within the cultural
system between the Goals (values) which define our lives and the culturally
determined, institutionalized, legitimate Means for achieving them.
primary aim is to discover how some
social structures exert a definite pressure
upon certain persons in the society to engage in
nonconformist rather than conformist conduct.
. . . high rates of deviant behavior in these groups
[occur] not because the human beings comprising them are
compounded of distinctive biological tendencies but because they
are responding normally to to the social situation in which they find
Robert K. Merton, "Social Structure and Anomie." American Sociological
Review 3 (Oct. 1938):
672-82. Reprinted in On Social Structure and Science, essays by Robert K. Merton,
Piotr Sztompka. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
Well defined, articulated, established
and accepted (internalization, socialization)
- Legitimate means de-emphasized.
- Certain groups blocked from accessing
Strain (Prof. Tom O'Connor's notes, local copy):
Occurs between individual's aspirations
and expectations==> Not individual problem, but structural reality.
Adaption to strain
- Can be deviance (norm violation).
- Once deviance becomes an alternative
it can spread, and become a relatively permanent part of a social system.
- Conformity central: most keep
- All but rebel are essentially
"non-threatening" to the system.
- But existence of deviance does
suggest Reform, or repair is needed. (Social Policies of the 1960's).
Structural Strain Theory
- Too Utilitarian- not all deviance
is in pursuit of wealth
- Too Atomistic- not simple individual
adaption to strain.
- Too Mechanistic- no room for understanding
the role of individual/group processes, role of subcultures.
- Status: recognition and respect
from significant others
- Position: An accepted place in
- This leads to:
Children of the lower classes are
judged by a "Middle Class Measuring Rod."
- Families are problematic.
- Children are failures at school
- They experience problems with
Authorities (police, employers, etc.)
- Bad home, school failure==>
Problem Kid==> Status Frustration.
Failure to achieve status and recognition
leads to "dropping out," but:
- One finds oneself in the company
of others who share similar concerns and problems.
- A Collective "reaction formation"
emerges (or is already available)==> The Gang.
- College Boys (~conformist)
- Corner Boys (~retreatist)
- Delinquent Boys (~innovator)
Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin (1960) (view as html)
- Even access to illegitimate
opportunities in differentially structured.
- Deviant response explained by
, both legitimate and illegitimate.
- Neighborhood and subcultural focus:
What is available for the individual experiencing strain?
- Subcultures-- collective social
adjustments to the strains of blocked opportunity. People learn to adjust
within the group context.
- Criminal Gang: integrate age levels,
training, skills-- pursuit of profit. Organized, rational, and structured.
- Conflict Gang: less integration,
distance from legitimate goals, less instrumentality >focus on venting
pent up frustration, unskilled and disorganized activity.
- Retreatist Gang:
Control: Mobilization for
Youth (and many other similar programs in the 1960s)--little impact: too radical,
and not radical enough
Problems with Strain
- Question of lower class aspirations
and expectations as strained (Hirschi--low aspirations of the lower class
- Question of deviant motivation--intention.
- Question of specialization within
- Question of drug users being "double
- Strain Theories accept simple
normative definition of deviance.
- They rely on official statistics
as depicting the reality of deviance.
- Essentially a lower class focus,
what about Middle Class deviance?
- Somewhat radical, but radical
- Structural Factors: similar
- Individual Factors: biological
- Interpersonal Factors: group structures
- Unlimited and Unobtainable Goals
The Blau's: Relative Deprivation
- Inequality perceived to be
due to race or class
- Sense of social injustice
- Distrust of Society
- Not poverty itself, but proximity
of wealth and poverty
Crime and the American Dream,
Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld (1994)
- A recent "radicalization"
of Merton's key ideas.
- A focus on contradictions in both
the cultural system, as well as the opportunity structures of modern society.
- "Re-inventing Culture."
Owner: Robert O. Keel firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits for this Page of Notes
Monday, September 22, 2008 4:43 PM