Faculty Publications

Title

Anomie and Strain: Context and Consequences of Merton's Two Theories

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Sociological Inquiry

Volume

73

Issue

4

First Page

471

Last Page

489

Abstract

Robert Merton presented two, not always clearly differentiated theories in his seminal explorations on the social-structure-and-anomie paradigm: a strain theory and an anomie theory. A one-sided focus on Merton's strain theory in the secondary literature has unnecessarily restricted the power and effectiveness of Merton's anomie theory. For although structural strain is one way to explain why deviance occurs in the context of anomie, it is not the only way. We contend that scholars who are critical of strain theory should not automatically discard Merton's anomie theory, because the perspective of anomie is compatible with several other theories of crime and delinquency. Offering examples of previous integration efforts, we maintain that Merton's theoretical model can benefit from the input of other theories of crime and deviance as much as these other theoretical perspectives can fine-tune their models and explanations.

Original Publication Date

1-1-2003

DOI of published version

10.1111/1475-682X.00067

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