Robert Merton's Explanation of DevianceThe following material represents Merton's attempt to explain deviance. According to Merton, deviance is an adaptation by individuals to the dominant culture. Discrepancies exist between cultural (material) goals and structural opportunities. As the discrepancy grows between the material goals of society and the means to achieve those goals, the individual experiences more and more internal conflict. Example: Poor people internalize middle-class goals, like wanting a home in a middle-class suburb. They learn to want goals, such as owning a color TV or new home, from sources such as the mass media or school. The means to achieve their goal, however, is difficult to find. Good paying jobs are scarce. Society has not provided the means to achieve those goals. Unable to achieve their goal, they experience stress.In order to relieve the stress the individuals violate the "goals" defined important by society or they violate the "means" to achieve those goals.
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