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Chapter 1

CRIM 104 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: General Strain Theory, Drug Culture, Social Learning Theory

Course Code
CRIM 104
Colleen Pawlychka

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Sociology of Criminology
Section I
anomie-strain theory – Emile Durkheim, Robert Merton, Robert Agnew, Steven Messner
Emile Durkheim – Greek word anomia
1893 book “The Division of Labour in Society
Anomia- a state of social disorder in which the social norms (or standards of conduct)
were weakened or non- existent
Anomie first described in 1897 book Suicide: A Study in Sociology
… a social condition of lawlessness, normalness and unregulated choice that led certain
individuals to commit what he referred to as anomic suicide
Robert Merton Social Structure and Anomie 1938 – borrowed Durkheim’s concept of
anomie and applied it to American society
Essentially Merton argued that American society was itself criminogenic (crime
causing), and the main cause of anomie.
….attributable to the strong emphasis placed on the cultural goals of accumulation of
wealth and social advancement, and the lack of institutional means [educational
employment opportunities] by which to attain those goals.
Merton’s theory came to be referred to as “strain theory” ….disjunction between the
cultural goals and the institutional means [to achieve goals]
Merton – five ways individuals can adapt to strain – innovation, ritualism, retreatism,
and rebellion
…One of the most cited works in Sociology of Crime
Albert Cohen merged anomie theory with Edward Sutherland’s differential association
theory in effort to identify the types of strain experienced by lower-class males, and
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