SOC 102 Topic 3 Discussion 2
C.R. Merton defined deviance as “the failure to adjust adequately to the total situation” or “to norms governing a social group or an individual.” (Merton, 1957 in Cook, 1992). Merton believed that deviance was the result of tension between the cultural goals or aspirations held out to the larger society, and the approved means of attaining those goals.
Merton believed that deviance, “rule-breaking”, is the result of tension between the cultural goals or aspirations held out to the larger society, and the approved means of attaining those goals. He cited as motivation for deviance the disparity between legitimate expectations for achievement and a person’s actual performance. This view suggests that people modulate their deviant behavior in response to their environment
Merton’s deviance theory focuses on the tension that exists when someone chooses to adopt behavior that is inconsistent with the cultural goals or aspirations of mainstream society. For example, individuals may be motivated by extreme poverty and pervasive discrimination when they commit crimes or otherwise violate the law in order to get ahead. People who find themselves committing deviant acts because there are no acceptable means for them to act responsibly within society are known as anomic populations. Merton proposed that there were five channels or structures for achieving culturally approved goals: innovation, ritualism, rebellion, retreatism and conformity. These channels make it possible for people to achieve socially established goals even if they can’t reach them through legitimate means. There are specific characteristics of each channel which include cultural goals, social structure as well as status trappings, values and mores, such as sources of shame and guilt.
Merton believed that the acceptance of the cultural goals by the majority of people in a society is a prerequisite for reducing and/or eliminating deviance. He referred to this as the “conformity” factor, which he defined as the degree to which cultural goals and approved means are consistent with each other. In support of his belief, Merton described how an individual’s social class membership can influence what he or she considers to be acceptable means for achieving desired ends.
In the article that I read Merton talks about his theory of deviance. Ritzer also mentions a way in which he believes deviance can be defined.
Theorists such as Merton recognize that deviance is a result of individuals seeking ways to fill needs and/especially ways to meet their aspirations. This can be done through non-approved means and this is considered deviant.
Merton believed that deviance was the result of tension between the cultural goals or aspirations held out to the larger society, and the approved means of attaining those goals. Do you agree or disagree with this theoretical perspective? Providing examples to back up your statement.
SOC 102 Topic 3 Discussion 2