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Anomie and Strain Theory.docx

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
Scott Brandon

SOC 2700: Criminological Theory Anomie and Strain Theory – November 13, 2012 1. Key idea of strain: goals-means distancing - Doing legitimate things to reach your goals instead of criminal activity - The distance in between the gap of reaching your goals 2. Emile Durkheim - Social forces have impacts on people - Rapid social change had an impact on people, more strain, lack of norms and lack of community caused people to be reckless (Calgary, Edmonton) rise in jobs but also rise in crime rates, they have problems with youth gangs - Rapid decline in jobs also plays the same role - Problem of normlessness - Anomie due to social change - Lack of regulation, morals and norms - Lead to increasing rates of crime - Suicide – ultimate act of deviance - Modernity creates desires and goals - Wealth stimulates ideas for materials - Rise in terms of credit card debt - People pursue a lot of unattainable goals - Starts with theft but can turn into violent crime - Crime is functional to society 3. Robert K. Merton: Strain and Anomie Theory - Crime due to: inability to achieve goals - Society says you have to have them to be successful but if you cannot attain it you may feel strain - American Dream – material success, doing things better than you have today, a gage of how successful you are - Merton’s focus: the dysjunction between goals and means - Crime can be a byproduct of material things, some say they will settle for what they have in life, others will always be wanting to achieve more and now - The middle and lower class embrace these high-class items in means to attain the American dream - A house for example is a gage for being successful - Merton differs from Durkheim: aspirations and strains are in the social structure - Alienated, some pick conformity, some look at criminal means - Merton sees two components to anomie: cultural goals and institutional means - Institutional means: school - Problem with that is that many people want things now and don’t want to go Through the process - People of lower classes still believe that they can still obtain the good life and have material things that people say you have to have to be successful - Direct result of why we have deviance in societies 4. Merton’s 5 Modes of Adaptation: - Conformity - For the ability to achieve things through legitimate means - People accept that they will leave with their means and be happy with what they have - The majority falls into this category - Innovation - Most deviants fall into this - Accepting the way of doing things, but rejecting the ways of getting them - Car thief, drug dealer, bank robber, white-collar criminals - Rejecting traditional ways of getting what they want - Ritualism - Reject cultural goals but accept institutionalized means - Notions of American Dream bought into by a lot of people, not them - Retreatism - Don’t do traditional things either like work and go to school - Homeless people, mentally ill - Rebellion - Terrorists, letter bomber – send package to someone’s door with bomb inside, bought
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