lec041910 - Soc 3101 Professor Deborah Carr Deviance...

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Soc 3101 Professor Deborah Carr Deviance (cont’d) Monday April 19, 2010 III. Why do people behave in deviant fashion? Sociological Explanations (These theories are generally used to understand the most commonly recognized form of deviance, criminal behavior. Some are also suitable for studying interpersonal deviance or mental health problems. A. Anomie or structural strain theory (Robert Merton) 1. Robert Merton argues that deviance is a reaction to the discrepancy between socially engendered goals and the availability of legitimate means to achieve those goals. Aspirations are cultural artifacts, and the assumption is that all members of culture should subscribe to these goals. In the United States, that cultural goal is occupational and financial success. Individuals who do not or CANNOT meet these goals are defined as deviant. An important point is that not all individuals have equal access to (or the legitimate means for achieving) those goals, however. a. Legitimate means refers to the socially acceptable pathways for reaching a social acceptable goal, such as education, or connections to help secure a good job. b. Merton’s typology. Those who do not have legitimate means must still strive to achieve the socially acceptable goals, yet often they must devise their own strategy for reaching that goal. The five adaptation strategies help us to define what is deviant. Merton typology Adheres to goals legitimate means? I. Conformity Yes Yes II. Innovation Yes No III. Ritualism No Yes IV. Retreatism No No V. Rebellion Replace Replace c. Merton’s typology emphasizes the different adaptations that people may make to the socially structured contradiction between cultural goals and means of attaining goals. i. Conformist is one whose experience in society leads to the acceptance of both culturally prescribed goals and the socially legitimate means for reaching those goals. These people “accept” the goals of one’s society, such as the goals of receiving an education and finding a good job. At the same time, these people have access to reaching those goals; perhaps they have the family background which allows for them to afford college. This is the most common adaptation to socially structured goals and means, and is the one path that adheres to SOCIETAL level norms. Conformists are not viewed as deviants, although the remaining strategies are generally viewed as deviant. ii. Innovator is one who adheres to the goals of economic success, yet does not have the legitimate means of achieving those goals. Thus, he or she will devise new ways in order to reach those goals. Drug dealers, prostitutes, thieves are all examples of this. Joining a gang may be a rational act because it provides a structured way for an individual to procure
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social and economic resources. iii. Ritualists give up the goal of economic success, but do abide by legitimate
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This note was uploaded on 11/20/2011 for the course SOCIOLOGY 920:101 taught by Professor Carr during the Spring '10 term at Rutgers.

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lec041910 - Soc 3101 Professor Deborah Carr Deviance...

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