Blog 3 : Mertons Strain Theory

One of Merton’s interesting theories is the social strain theory. The definition of Strain theory is when people feel  strain when they are unable to obtain a cultural goal because they do not have access to culturally approved means of achieving those goals. For example, if your goal is obtaining wealth, then the culturally approved method for achieving this goal would include a job and education. The strain theory also categorizes the types of people that exist within the structure of society.  

Conformity, Ritualism, Innovation, Retreatism, and Rebellion are the five states of being in a modern society according to Merton. Conformists are people who believe in cultural and normative goals in society and they follow the rules in society. An example would be a economically successful person based on their hard work. Ritualists are people who don’t believe in cultural goals but they do abide by the means for achieving those goals. An example would be a person who is less successful but still works hard. Innovators are people who accept cultural goals of society but don’t care about conventional methods which is linked to criminals. An example of innovators are drug dealers and prostitutes. Retreatists are people who don’t care about cultural goals or the means of attaining goals. An example of these people are homeless people. Rebels also don’t care about cultural goals and means of goals but instead they substitute new goals and new means of creating those goals. An example of Rebels are groups of people who take revenge over certain issues.  

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One response to “Blog 3 : Mertons Strain Theory

  1. Good summary of Merton’s typology of “modes of adaptation” to social strain. The examples offered for ritualism and rebellion need to be better fleshed out. Perhaps one could say ritualists “work hard,” but not in the conventional sense, because they’re just “going through the motions” and lack commitment to any end-goal. Rebels may “take revenge” in a sense, but it’s more than that.

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