Robert Merton Stain Theory

1204 Words Mar 20th, 2013 5 Pages
Robert Merton’s Anomie/Strain Theory
James King Jr.
Savannah State University

Theories of Criminal Behavior
Prof. W. Brooks
March 4, 2012

Since the beginning of mankind criminality has been a major problem and the most debated topic of interest by theorist on the grounds of why crime is committed, who is more prone to commit crime, and what prevents people from committing delinquent acts. The formulation of the Stain theory and Anomie Theory by Robert Merton give insight on the many question left unanswered about the reason for criminality. The Strain Theory decodes the mechanics of crime committed as being social structures in any given society pressuring its citizens to commit crime. This theory states that lower class
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Structural and cultural factors make understanding the strain of an individual to create deviant acts a whole lot easier.

Robert Merton was born in 1910 in Philadelphia to immigrant parents. Throughout his childhood he lived in a slum but he was a bright and intelligent kid who frequently visited the library and was also part of a gang, when they were not as dangerous as they are today. He received a scholarship to Temple University and became very fascinated with sociology and society’s effect on individuals. This could be explained due to the period of time in the United States he experienced WWI, immigration due to the roaring twenties, the Great Depression and WWII, which could have affected his workings of his anomie theory today. He later went to graduate school at Harvard University where he read up on Emile Durkheim. “He believed that individuals possessed an unlimited appetite of aspirations and it was up to society to regulate such an appetite. According to Durkheim appetites were regulated through the common morals and beliefs of the society. However, if this mechanism failed anomie would occur. An anomie state would unleash individual limitless appetites that could result in a variety of deviant behaviors.” It was after reading this Merton decided to discover what produces anomie.
The father of criminology Emile Durkheim wrote about the normality of crime
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