The American Dream Possible

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Updated: Mar 31, 2022
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One of the most influential theories of all time is Merton’s Strain Theory, which was engender in 1938. Robert K. Merton developed the structural strain theory as an extension of the functionalist perspective on deviant. Robert Merton argued that society might be set up in a way that inspirits an inordinate amount of deviance. Merton believed that when societal norms, or convivially accepted goals place pressure on the individual to conform they coerce the individual to either work within the structure society has engendered, or instead, become members of a deviant subculture in an endeavor to achieve those goals.

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Merton’s main concern was that societies do not provide the expedient such as access to inculcation, employment, etc., to achieve “the American Dream”. When individuals are faced with a gap between ‘what ought to be’ and ‘what is’, that person will feel strained and have a cull between five modes of adaptation.

The term “American dream” is use in many ways, but it essentially is a conception that suggests that anyone in the US can prosper through strenuous exertion and has the potential to lead an ecstatic, prosperous life. Many people have expanded upon or refined the definition to include things such as liberation, fulfillment and consequential relationships. Someone who manages to achieve his or her version of the American dream is verbally expressed to be “living the dream.” He utilized the lifestyle concept of the American dream, which places great accentuation on material prosperity. Merton outlined five possible ways that members of American society could respond to prosperity goals such as ritualism, retreatism, innovation, rebellion, and conformity. Conformists are people who believe in normative denotes for procuring goals legitimately.

They comply with the rules of society. Ritualists are individuals who stop endeavoring to achieve goals but believe in utilizing legitimate betokens for procuring goals. Innovators are those individuals that accept the cultural goals of society but reject the conventional methods of procuring those goals. They utilize different ways to achieve those goals (malefactor). Retreatists are individuals who reject both the cultural goals and the accepted designates of procuring those goals. They simply evade both the goals and betokens established by society without superseding those norms with their own counter-cultural forces. Revolt is to abnegate the cultural goals and denotes, then work to supersede them.

Innovation is utilizing convivially unapproved or unconventional denotes to obtain culturally approved goals. One phenomenal story that describes Merton’s Strain Theory exceptional well was the Catts family. Scott purloined many banks to fortify his family and ascertain that they got whatever they wanted and needed. His wife died, leaving abaft their two children Hayden and Abbey, for him to take care of. Scott became so deject and turn into drugs to cope with his pain of the loss of his wife. Later on, he was behind on his bills and could not fortify his family how he want to fortify them. He was not impecunious but he was stress about not giving his children the things they optate the most. Scott decided to glom banks as his way towards the American Dream. After a couple years of glomming banks, everything seem to be going very smoothly. Eventually his children commenced to fail and not be able to fortify themselves financially.

Scott daughter Abby drop out of school and work at an accommodation store. His son Hayden was gay and was abash to let any of his peers ken about the secret he kept obnubilating. Scott introduce purloining banks to his children. They mentally conceived the conception was great. Albeit their financial needs were met, eventually they all were caught and ended up in confinement. This exhibits that the American Dream is a prevarication and not everybody is going to make it and be prosperous. Merton shows how mundane and deviant comportment can arise from having the same mainstream goals. Most malefaction is property malefaction, because American society values material wealth so highly Lower class malefaction rates are higher, because they have least opportunity to obtain wealth legitimately.

Merton’s strain theory has developed in an endeavor to explicate white-collar malefaction. People turn to illicit denotes to become prosperous and procure monetary goals. They Experience strain to anomie, which emasculates the mechanisms of convivial control. Ergo, Corporations may find that licit ways of maintaining or incrementing their profits are ineffective. Consequently, there is pressure to turn to illicit denotes. The things that Merton’s Strain Theory does not answer why working class individuals turn to malefaction. Merton relies on official statistics, which designates he over-estimates the extent of working class malefaction and underestimates the extent of middle class, or white-collar malefaction. Merton’s Strain Theory only explicates economic malefaction and it does not expound bellicose malefaction. Other than that, Merton’s Strain Theory is an excellent theory to study the comportments and exhibits reason why individuals committed the malefaction.

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The American Dream Possible. (2022, Mar 31). Retrieved from