Critiques of Merton

Critiques of Merton - and goals automatically use...

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Critiques of Merton's Typology Many functionalist arguments, like the ones presented above, are easy to critique because their positions are usually very rigid and simplistic. They assume that what exists and is dominant is correct. 1. Functionalists assume that people who are not a part of the dominant culture automatically use the dominant culture as their point of reference. Note that functionalists define legitimate and illegitimate from a middle- class point of view. 2. Even if we accept the middle-class point of reference, Merton assumes that people who do not have access to goals by legitimate means automatically have access by illegitimate means. How do you steal a color TV? Criminal activity is also a skilled profession. An individual does not just wake up one morning and say to him or herself: "I think I'll rob a TV store today!" 3. Merton assumes that people who have access to legitimate means
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Unformatted text preview: and goals automatically use legitimate means and goals. The drug "problem" in middle-class high schools demonstrates that people who have access to legitimate means still engage in deviance. Another example that contradicts Merton's claims is the large number of middle-class teenagers who shoplift merchandise at shopping malls. They do not engage in this activity because they do not have access to means and/or goals. They shoplift because their life is boring. 4. There is also a problem with cause and effect. We assume that because a person cannot achieve legitimate goals in society that he automatically turns to deviance (like drug use). Perhaps the cause and effect travel in the opposite direction. The individual may get into drugs, which in turn blocks their access to legitimate goals in society (via drug tests)....
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course SCIE SYG2000 taught by Professor Bernhardt during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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