Factors Influencing The American Dream

1834 WordsDec 14, 20158 Pages
For criminals, participating in crime is often caused by the absence of legal means to provide and support for themself and his or her family. For sociologists, one yearns to know what is the final reason, the final straw, to the criminal’s decision to participate in said crime? If this answer is possible to determined, sociologists can work to prevent this occurrence from happen in the first place. However, I believe, for individuals to turn to illegal means, it is not one, single event but instead it is the idea that one’s history, surroundings, and personality must all align together. More specifically, it is one’s background factors, situational dynamics, and foreground factors that causes an individual to succumb or to not succumb to…show more content…
None of these factors are factors that an individual has the ability to choose from. Rather, they are born into or nurtured into. That is to say, an individual cannot choose if he or she is born into a lower, middle, upper class family. An individual cannot choose if he or she is white, black, Hispanic, Asian, or any other race. An individual cannot choose if he or she will have cancer in his or her body. An individual cannot choose if he or she will be taught specific values and not taught others. Instead, Merton states, “Among the elements of social and cultural structure, two are important for our purposes. These are analytically separable although they merge imperceptibly in concrete situations. The first consists of culturally defined goals, purposes, and interests … The second phase of the social structure defines, regulates, and controls the acceptable modes of achieving these goals." (Merton 672,673) Merton proposed that an individual’s background factors impact whether he or she would consider the American Dream as what they strive for in life. Because many citizens do indeed wish to achieve the American Dream, Merton would argue that culture leads individuals to act in certain, specific ways (Lecture 9/28/15). Merton additionally proposed that culture impacts the ways in which an individual achieves the American Dream, which for the purpose of example in this essay, is the end goal. He determined that there was indeed a relationship
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