Blog 1: Dealing crack-cocaine and the innovative adaption to anomie [Merton]

Crack House is a powerful and emotional documentary about the lives of crack-cocaine dealers Duck and his crew, the Titanic Stones, who came to dominate the drug industry of Chicago and Rockford, Illinois . Their story is told through the accounts of others, but most interestingly through the extensive surveillance footage used to convict them. Merton’s mode of innovation is the adaptation to the severe strain of anomie which the lower class face most particularly.

“Those born to lose,” are set up for a life of limited opportunities, and criminal activity is an illegitimate but effective way to acquire wealth and power. This is different from the example of the recent London riots, where protestors turn to rebellion to achieve a temporary state of relief from anomie, those featured in Crack House do not reject the dominant cultural objective of wealth accumulation, they embrace it. But it is the interplay of many factors : poverty, stress of anomie, gang culture, and drugs which lead individuals into a life of drug dealing.

Living in a world where there are few other opportunities and life expectancy is short, the fast track to cash in drug dealing is consoling to one’s sense of personal accomplishment, of becoming someone and enjoying a life of extreme indulgence before the end where life leads “to prison or to the graveyard.”

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