V. S Strain Theory: Robert Merton's Strain Theory

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Deviance; we all take part in it, one way or another. Best defined as “the recognized violation of cultural norms,” (Macionis p. 212) tells of how we all contribute aberrant actions to society all the time, some with our entire lifestyles and way of being. It just means to say that we all veer from the righteous path at times, whether it be breaking a religious commandment, a legal law, or simply doing something ‘unusual’ such as being a white person with dreads. Being deviant is something that, whether it be surprising or not, has to do with society and how it’s organized. Of course, acts that are deviant in one state or country could be perceived as relatively normal in another, causing the definition of a criminal or outlier to vary. Robert Merton, an American sociologist and Columbia University professor, conceived Merton’s Strain Theory, which presented the notion that society and how it’s organized can prompt people to be deviants, even noting deviance as a necessary component. People tend to veer in four different directions when they act deviant, with those four modes being innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Homeless people committing crimes with the intention of finding shelter and food is an example of innovation in strain theory. Innovation here refers to people who use illegitimate means to achieve socially-acceptable goals. People surviving without a home face daily difficulties obtaining things such as food, warmth, and shelter. There are

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