Merton's Strain Theory

1912 Words8 Pages
Section A Briefly outline and highlight the contribution of Merton’s strain theory to criminology. Robert K. Merton was an American sociologist that wrote in the 1930’s putting out his first major work in 1938 called Social Structure and Anomie. After publication, this piece was we worked and tweaked to counter criticisms. The importance of the time frame of which Merton initially began his work is significant, as during this time crime and the approach to crime was examined predominantly based on the individual and was explained from a psychological base. Merton on the other hand, applied sociology to crime. This is critical to understanding his strain theory, as his work is sociological in nature, following the core beliefs of…show more content…
An act is only criminal because the law deems it criminal. Take away the law, and the same act is no longer a crime and can be sociably acceptable. This is seen in the Western world in the contemporary era. Divorce carried a stigma during the 20th century, however, the 21st century see’s divorce rates of over 40% and very little negative feedback from society. This shows how the norms and values of a given society are dynamic and ever changing. Furthermore, conflict theorists suggest the laws are made specifically to isolate individual components of the population to prevent solidarity and eventually the Marixst revolution. By separating the population, the revolution can never take place as the working class is constantly divided and fighting amongst themselves, they become blind to the their own oppression. Critics argue that crime is not only a working class phenomenon and even conflict theory acknowledges this, however, the important fact is that crime among the elite is usually white collar or victimless crime. This often goes unpunished or even unreported. As those with what Weber calls “status and prestige” usually use their positions in society to evade and negative repercussions, further oppressing the working class as the focus shifts from the elite entirely to them. Shifting from a macro perspective, symbolic interactionists propose a different aspect, labeling theory,
Open Document