Anomie and Strain Theory

Essay by ngulleyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2006

download word file, 4 pages 4.4

Downloaded 121 times

Anomie theory provides an explanation of the concentration of crime. The theory leans heavily on the work of one of several founders of sociology, Emile Durkheim, who used the term anomie to describe the lack of social regulation in modern societies as one manner that could elevate higher suicide rates. Robert Merton, a criminologist that applied Durkheim's definition of anomie to modern industrial societies with emphasis towards the United States, specifically, redefined the term. According to Merton, anomie is the form that societal incoherence takes when there is a significant detachment "between valued cultural ends and legitimate societal means to those ends" (Akers, 2000, p. 143, 161). Anomie can be separated into two specific categories: macroside and microside. The former is caused when society fails to establish clear limits on goals and is unable to regulate the conduct of members in the society. The latter, more commonly referred to as strain, stresses its attention towards the breakdown of society and the increase in deviance associated with this declining change that produces a stronger pressure among members of society to commit crimes (Calhoun, 2003).

Strain is the pressure on disadvantaged minority groups and the lower urban populous to take advantage of any effective available means to income and success that they can find even if these means are illegal (Akers, 2000, p. 144). In his 1897, publication, Suicide, Durkheim classified strain into two basic categories: social processes and personal experiences. These in turn produced two general types of strain: structural and individual. Social processes create the environment necessary for the evolvement of structural strain and personal experiences cause individual strain. Structural strain applies to members of society who determine their needs based on the ideals of society and are in a constant struggle to meet those expectations. Individual strain is the...