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Essay example - Strengths and Weaknesses of Merton's Strain Theory in Understanding Crime.

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Masters
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Sociology
Pages 8 (2008 words)
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Robert K Merton developed the social strain theory. The theory explains that it is the social structures that influence a person to commit a crime. The social strain theory by Merton bases most of its descriptions on deviant behavior developed in pursuit of wealth…

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Each society has its cultural and societal structure. Culture sets up goals for individuals in society. It is up to the individuals to meet these goals. Societal structure on the other hand facilitates the means for individuals to achieve these goals. It is not necessary for the societal structure to provide the means to achieve the goals. In some situations, it does not provide the avenue for all the individuals in the society.
As Merton affirms, it is in a developed society that individuals use the means set up by the society to achieve their goals. The goals are the ones that the society establishes. In such a situation, the goals and the means that the society provides are in balance.
Criminal behavior is likely to develop when there is an imbalance in this system. The criminals feel that the society has set up its goals while it does not provide clear means to achieve these goals. They resort to crime to achieve these goals. This means that the society has its cultural structure but lacks the societal structure.
Merton explains that innovation is accepting the goals and rejecting the societal means set up. This shows that after an individual fails to use the means that the society has set up, they resort to different ways to achieve these goals. ...
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