Strain Theory Of Deviance Flashcards, test questions and answers
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What is Strain Theory Of Deviance?
The Strain Theory of Deviance is a criminological theory that suggests crime and deviant behavior occur when individuals are exposed to stress or strain from society. This theory was first proposed by Robert K. Merton in 1938, who argued that criminal behavior is a result of the difficulty for individuals to achieve socially accepted goals, such as wealth and status, through socially acceptable means. According to this theory, those who cannot attain these goals through legitimate means may turn to deviant behavior as an alternative way of achieving them.Merton’s Strain Theory consists of five elements: structural strain, cultural goals/values, adaptations/innovations, social control/deviance and institutional anomie. Structural strain refers to the gap between socially accepted goals and culturally defined means available for achieving them. Cultural values refer to the beliefs held by members of society about what constitutes success or failure in life (e.g., material goods). Adaptations involve finding alternative routes for achieving success other than those prescribed by society (e.g., using drugs or stealing). Social control refers to the degree to which individuals are able or willing to conform their behaviors according to social norms, while institutional anomie refers to a lack of shared rules governing behavior among members of a given group or organization.The Strain Theory has been used extensively in criminology research as it can help explain why certain groups have higher rates of crime than others due its emphasis on inequality within society; however there are also criticisms leveled at it such as its inability account for why some people engage in deviant behaviors even when they have access resources needed for success (i.e., those with privilege).