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Lecture 5

SOCY 275 week 5.docx

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SOCY 275
Vincent F Sacco

October 7, 2013  Anomie—the absence if rules  But what it really means is, the inability of rules to control people  The absence of the moral suasion of rules  Characteristic of society and social structure  Sometimes is confused anomia  A psychological reflection of the social structural condition The origins of anomie theory  The work of Emile Durkheim  Anomie in The Division of Labour in Society  Anomie in Suicide  In suicide Durkheim discuss the term anomie in reference to a term that happens under organic distribution  Mechanic solidarity, Durkheim postulates, that there are 4 types of suicide, he sees it as the product as the extreme elements of two different sociological dimension  A dimension if integration  A dimension of regulation  Regulation is actually good for us, we need it because most of the things we desire in life are like social appetites, we want all kinds of things from all aspects of society, and there is no natural limit to how much we want. There must be rules to regulate, the things we seeks and the things we actually achieve  Rules keep us stable, and on a path  The problem with saying people commit suicide when the economy crashes, it that the number also rises when the economy rises  So the problem isn’t the economic drop or gain, it is the change and the inconsistency  Anomic suicide, also how the rates of suicide seem to vary based off the degree of normative control they are subject to The Contributions of Robert Merton  “Social Structure and Anomie”  He discusses the neighbourhood he lived in despite not having a lot of money, his neighbourhood provided him with all the types of capitals he needs  Change his name to “King Merton” the magician  He starts to think about the problems in society, and the difference that could be made in the world  He was different because of the European influence, and looked at how society was organized, and how it creates certain influences regarding how society is organized  He writes a paper where he lays out a general interpretation of what sociology is For Merton, Strain resulted from the interplay of three elements:  He starts with an empirical observation  Why is it that all the rates related to deviance, have a sort of inverse relationship to social class?  What is it about the way we have organized our relationships with each other, that seem to create a pressure among the people at the bottom of the structure to cause them to be more deviant  Thee are 3 main pressures 1. Cultural goals 2. The institutionalized mans of goal attainment 3. The actual distribution of the means of goal attainment  Cultural goals- especially the goals of success  Every society can be described as having a certain amount and types of goals  America places overriding pressure on success  In other countered there were limitations to goals and means based on class, in American “anyone can be successful”  When we look at the American case, and cultural goals we realize that some people are more important that others  The institutionalized means of goal attainment—especially inherited wealth and education  The actual distribution of the means of foal attainment  This is not part of culture, but social structure  The way in which means are distributed in society, is disproportionate for people, not everyone has equal chances  There are a lot of people (mainly at the bottom of the class structure) do not have equal opportunity  This is an anomic social structure; the goals and the means are not aligned with each other  It is a difference in means not a difference in goals  This is what creates a problem for people, he thinks of deviance as a form of problem solving  Merton argued that it is useful to think about deviance as a kind of problem solving behaviour  People explore deviant solutions when society present them with problems for which conformist solutions are not available  For Merton, theses problems are most acute in the lower social classes because it is there that people are most likely to experience the disjuncture between the things they aspire to and things, which are actually available to them  Such circumstance creates a social condition known as “anomie”. Merton’s use of the term was intended to describe the state of affairs in which people become alienated from the normative structure such that they no longer feel bound by the rules that normally regulate action  Any thing that is directed towards the same goal as the conformist  Conformist -Most people accept as legitimate the culturally approved ways of achieving legitimately the culturally approved goals. In Merton’s example, most of us strive for material success by working hard, trying to get a good education, etc.  Innovation- The bank robber, drug dealer or white collar thief seeks success, too, but rejects the conventional means for achieving that success.  Ritualism are the people who are really just going through the motions, they will hang around all day so that they can get to that class, and than the get to that class and screw around for the hour, people who are here, but are not really there  Retreatism: people who are on campus, but they never go to class, they are not connected to anything, other than some pleasurable and fun activities  Rebellion is a sort of rejection of the system, actively working to change the goals medium The sociological character of Merton’s Analysis a. The central concepts, anomie, cultural goals, means etc. are to characteristics of people but characteristics of societies  He builds his arguments on social structure, not the individual b. Merton asks us to make no assumptions about the psychological or biological properties of people  Look at people as perfectly normal, and make no assumptions of people beyond that c. The question to which Merton addresses his analysis is very sociological in nature  His questions do not have psychological answers they are purely sociological questions In the chart  He is not talking about types of people; he is talking about types of behaviours th October 10 2013 Critics have said  The theory does not do a very good job of explaining why people near the top of the class structure engage in high levels of corporate and professional crime  At the same time people were looking into white-collar crime and anomie doesn’t say much about it because it doesn’t see it as a big problem  Most people who lack access to the legitimate means to cultural goals are not criminal  It is deterministic  Lots of people are denied opportunity, but all those people do not commit crime  The theory seems better suited to explaining “instrumental and rational deviance” rather than deviance, which is more expressive-emotional.  Criminologist often talks about 2 types of crime, rationale instrumental and emotional crime  Rational instrumental crime is you steal money because
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