Cloward can be found in American Sociological Review. This study is focused on the evaluation and testing of the theory of anomie. It is often termed as strain theory. It is known that this theory has undergone two phases of its development, according to the works of Emile Durkheim and Robert K. This study discussed the third phase as it focuses on consolidation of two sociological traditions of thought concerning the problem of deviant behavior of individuals in our society: the anomie tradition and the so-called cultural transmission tradition or differential association tradition. The anomie tradition was discussed by Durkheim and Merton, while the cultural transmission tradition was discussed by Clifford R.
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This French sociologist began his academic career in the late s, a time when sociology was not widely accepted in Europe or elsewhere as an independent scientific discipline. In his first two major books originally published in the early s, The Division of Labor in Society and The Rules of Sociological Method , Durkheim outlined what he saw to be the distinctive theoretical problems and methodological strategies of sociological inquiry.
Social facts, according to Durkheim, are phenomena that are properties of societies rather than of individual members of societies. Durkheim applied these general principles to a particular research problem in his third major book, originally published in , Suicide He deliberately focused on the seemingly individualistic phenomenon of suicide in order to demonstrate the power and distinctiveness of sociological inquiry.
What better or more dramatic way is there to build a strong case for sociology than to look beyond the individual—to society—for the causes of suicidal behavior? Using a vast body of data from official records on suicides in different parts of Europe, Durkheim documented marked variations between countries in suicide rates. At this point, we shall focus only on the best known of these four causes of suicide, anomie. Anomie refers to an environmental state where society fails to exercise adequate regulation or constraint over the goals and desires of its individual members Durkheim, — Under the condition of anomie, however, society is unable to exert its regulatory and disciplining influences.
Out of disillusionment and despair with the pursuit of limitless goals, many individuals in the anomic society take their own lives. Therefore, high rates of anomic suicide are the product of the environmental condition of anomie.
Durkheim argued that the condition of anomie could explain at least three kinds of suicidal phenomena. First, in historical data on suicide rates in Europe , Durkheim found that sharp increases or decreases in the economic prosperity of a society were associated with increasing rates of suicide.
Suicide rates were lowest during times of economic stability. Economic booms or depressions undercut the predictable material goals from which individuals would ordinarily derive satisfaction.
Durkheim explained high rates of suicide among business people as a result of this chronic state of anomie. Finally, Durkheim analyzed how inadequate regulation of sexual desires could also produce high rates of anomic suicide among certain social groups.
Single males, in particular, are in social circumstances where their unrestrained pursuit of physical pleasure is likely to lead to disillusionment and suicide. Marriage functions to regulate sexual desire, and husbands typically have lower rates of suicide than unmarried males. Thus, the concept of anomie is used by Durkheim to explain a variety of social facts.
Variations in suicide rates across time, by occupation and by marital status, are all linked theoretically to this general environmental condition. Following the clear directions laid down by Durkheim, the anomie tradition has continued to focus its search for the causes of deviant behavior on large-scale variations in the environmental features of society.
In contrast to Durkheim, Merton bases his theory on sociological assumptions about human nature. For instance, people reared in a society where cultural values emphasize material goals will learn to strive for economic success. Indeed, Merton focuses on the extreme emphasis on material goals that characterizes the cultural environment of American society. Merton not only argues that all Americans, regardless of their position in society, are exposed to the dominant materialistic values, but that cultural beliefs sustain the myth that anyone can succeed in the pursuit of economic goals.
Anomie, for Durkheim, referred to the failure of society to regulate or constrain the ends or goals of human desire. Merton, on the other hand, is more concerned with social regulation of the means people use to obtain material goals. Second, structural blockages that limit access to legitimate means for many members of American society also contribute to its anomic tendencies.
Under such conditions, behavior tends to be governed solely by considerations of expediency or effectiveness in obtaining the goal rather than by a concern with whether or not the behavior conforms to institutional norms. This chronic discrepancy between cultural promises and structural realities not only undermines social support for institutional norms but also promotes violations of those norms.
Blocked in their pursuit of economic success, many members of society are forced to adapt in deviant ways to this frustrating environmental condition. Just how do people adapt to these environmental pressures? Merton presents an analytical typology, shown in the following table, of individual adaptations to the discrepancy between culture and social structure in American society.
The Anomie Tradition
The core idea of general strain theory is that people who experience strain or stress become distressed or upset which may lead them to commit crime in order to cope. One of the key principles of this theory is emotion as the motivator for crime. Examples of General Strain Theory are people who use illegal drugs to make themselves feel better, or a student assaulting his peers to end the harassment they caused. Institutional anomie theory[ edit ] Institutional anomie theory IAT is a criminology theory developed in in by Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld. The theory states that crimes result from a high number of illegitimate opportunities and not from a lack of legitimate ones.
Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior essay
Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior
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