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Paper Topic:

Merton’s five modes of adaptation to strain

Merton 's Five Modes of Adaptation to Strain

Criminologists are one in believing that strain results to deviant behavior . They claim that this resulting deviant behavior could either be criminal or delinquent in nature . Some say that the level of constraints and negative emotionality ' of individuals dictate whether they would react to strain in a criminal way , such as robbing people , or react to strain in only a delinquent way like snubbing their neighbors (Agnew et al , 2002 as cited in Nash Anderson , 2002

They , however , could not agree as to what causes

strain . Durkheim , for example , pointed to abrupt changes in society as the main causes of strain . According to his theory , when a person 's needs are not satisfied , he /she would be under continuous strain . To place the individual who is suffering from such a strain under control , society must act as a regulator . However , when society is experiencing from sudden changes or finds itself in crisis , it becomes incapable of regulating the behavior of the individual . This gives rise to incidents of crime or deviant behavior (Agnew , 2006

Merton , however , sees it differently . According to him , sudden changes in society do not cause strain . He proposed that the way society is structured , that is to say , influencing or casting people to aspire for the same or similar objectives but not giving everybody equal access to the means of achieving the objective , is what results to these deviant behavior that could either be criminal or delinquent in nature . For instance , society encourages people to be successful (with good-paying jobs , happy family , with an assured future . When the means needed to realize these objectives are not available to every member of society (good education , available jobs , even a healthy attitude towards work strain results (Merton 's Strain Theory , n .d

The strain theory advanced by Merton identified five modes of adapting to strain ' These are : conformity , innovation , ritualism , retreatism and rebellion . Conformity , according to Merton , is the usual manner of strain adaptation . Under this mode , the members of society accept both the goals emphasized by society and the recommended means of achieving them . People are considered conformists if they subscribe to the goals set for them by society and do their best to achieve them utilizing only the means prescribed by society . In other words , these people do not resort to illegal means just to attain their goals . Under the innovation mode , individuals also agree to what society considers as desirable goals . Unfortunately for some people , the approved or legitimate means are not available to them . What they do is look for other , extra-legal means , so that they can realize the goals set for them by society . They resort , for instance , to robbery , theft , embezzling , and swindling Ritualism , on the other hand , refers to those who have ceased to believe in the goals emphasized by society . In other words , they have decided to turn their backs on society and its mores and have chosen to live their lives...

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