Merton attempts to explain deviance. He believes that deviant behavior is due to conditions in social structure. Society creates a strain between culturally prescribed goals and the socially structured means to achieve them. Merton links together anomie with deviance and argues that the discontinuities between culture and structure have the dysfunctional consequences of leading to deviance within society. Merton believes that everyone wants the American dream, but the way in which people go about getting the dream are not the same because not everyone has the same opportunities and advantages. This is what leads to deviance.
Merton mentions 5 different modes of adaptation to an anomic society. 1. Conformity: person accepts goals and means of society
Innovation: person accepts the goals and rejects the means
Ritualism: person rejects the goals and accepts the means
Retreatism: when a person rejects the goals and the means
Rebellion: a person doesn’t accept either and wants to change the social structure.
Unfortunately, since there is an imbalance of goals and means and not everyone have the same opportunities, deviance occurs usually in the lower classes