Merton's Strain Theory Essay

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A few years back, an incident arose with a two of my friends at a corner store. Through detailing this story, it will be illustrated how Merton’s (1938) strain theory and his concept of ‘anomie both has applicability and limitations. According to (BOOK), anomie arises when there is disconnect between one’s wants and one’s means. More specifically, Merton (1938) states that for anomie to occur, it must first consist “of culturally defined goals, purposes, and interests,” which “are related to the original drives of man, but they are not determined by them” (p. 672) and a social structure, which “defines, regulates, and controls the acceptable modes of achieving these goals” (p. 673). It is when there is a lack of congruence between one’s individual cultural aspirations and the acceptable modes of achieving them that anomie occurs, exerting “a definite pressure upon certain persons in the society to engage in nonconformist rather than conformist conduct” (p. 672). This strain was something that several of my high school friends experienced, but only one acted on it …show more content…

Jameel certainly didn’t want to rat Mike out, but he felt pushed into a corner. Then, when the police came, things got worse for Jameel. Although there was no evidence that it was Jameel that was responsible for shoplifting the lighter, there is one important differentiating factor between Mike and Jameel: the color of their skin. And while Jameel had been able to hold a solid after-school job at a computer and electronics store for years, not experiencing the material deprivation that Mike had, it seems his race was far more important. As such, while Mike’s lack of financial resources would validate Merton’s theory of anomie and strain, it does not account for the variability of factors such as race that are erroneously applied to people of marginalized racial and ethnic groups. It was like Jameel was guilty simply because of his

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