Societies are characterized by both culture and social structure. The strain theory states that structures in our society can push people to commit crimes. We all have the same goals its how we go about achieving that goal that differs. What makes Merton’s deviance typology interesting is that everyone falls somewhere of his types regardless of your situation and anyone can easily become a deviant and turn to deviance in the pursuit of accepted social goals and values. The achievement of economic success in the U.S. is a great example that explains the structural strain theory. In Merton’s Innovation theory the innovators are the people who sell illegal drugs have rejected the accepted norms for making money and are deviant in the way they get it. They reject the traditional and/or legitimate means of attaining their goals. Though illegal by selling drugs they still share the same cultural accepted value of making money. Resulting in deviance being accepted as norms sometimes. Money can be the enemy and lead to evil; people are sometimes willing to do anything for it.
The youtube video “I Blame Myself”, by Sky Ferriarie, depicts a group of men that innovate some medium to alleviate their pains as poor men living in a California ghetto. The culture of pop and opulence is desired as one of the gangsters is seen driving his car up and down. There may also be a need to become stable and not just live by fancier standards. This is the anomie or strain between cultural goals and institutional means which Merton implies in his essay “Social Structure And Anomie”. Why would one go and sell drugs, could it be that he would want to suffice for a standard living. The singer in the video sings that the young men don’t have a choice and are just getting only, this could imply that their innovation is just a way to get by. They wear gold chains which could also signify that they are going against certain institutions and selling drugs to fit into a culture of fairness and democracy. The young men in the video aren’t conforming to anything by partaking in gangs and committing illegal crimes. There is an old man that seems to be picking up drugs, and he seems to be going against institutionalized means to get want the wants maybe because he has no other choice. On the other hand,the young black men seem to try to fit into pop culture with their jewelry and cars. The fact that the singer sings that she blames herself for her reputation, seemingly speaking for the young black men, signifies that maybe the men feel bad about what they do, when Merton would suggest that they are conditioned to attain fair wealth, and go to many lengths to achieve such wealth. This is where the stain lies or the anomie by Merton. The blame is due to the conditioning of a hypocritical democracy and the available illegal means to obtain some money. The manner in which the young man curses after the man in the car signs to the man outside a death symbol reveals that there lacks a moral sentiment between the men! and as drug dealers! they are open to using violence and threats to attain some cultural fairness. Despite all the bling, the men still have to fight the hounds of hell in world unchanged and unaiding to them; hence they become antisocial and partake in illegal crimes. Nevertheless, this is an inquiry left unquenched. If the men were living in a country that did not jokingly decorate itself with fairness, would they feel the need to go to such extreme violent levels to hypothetically not only survive, but thrive with jewelry and fancy things. “In societies such as our own, then the pressure of prestige-bearing success tend to eliminate the effective social constraint over means employed to this end.” (Merton, 681) The young men practice dealing to alleviate their pains of being poorer. They should blame themselves, but if they live in a culture of democracy, can they be blamed? There are swift and cold calculations as the men meet each other at a street, this anomie or strain is what is wrong with our society. Such an ideology of any ends will justify my means of fairness is indeed detrimental.
There are different ways of how we go about our lives whether is to conform, to innovate, ritualism, to retreat or to rebel. When it comes to the work place we rarely rebel unless is something extremely bad and we really don’t retreat because of the bills we need to pay, even though people decide to do so in order to get all the public assistance they can; since it seems that thats the only way you can get any assistance in this country. People who have a full time job a make money do not get any of that. I was denied health insurance because I made “too much money” without them considering that I pay rent, utilities, food, school and everything else, but I rather work and provide for myself than just stay home and be a couch potato 24 hours a day 7 days a week. As workers we usually either conform, ritualize, or innovate throughout their career as a way to fulfill their goals and dreams. Some people conform and are ok with working a 9 to 5 job, renting an apartment and living day to day life. These conformists see it as “I have a job no matter how bad it is” or ” I have a place to live no matter how much i have to work to pay it”. Others are not happy with their positions in their workplace, not happy with what they have, so they innovate, they try to get what they want no matter who they have to hurt or use to get there, even if it’s illegal. These people turn to selling drugs, they take credit for other people’s work in order to get ahead, even kill people in order to obtain money.
There are also those people who are tired and bored of their job, but they stay because that job is what pays their rent and pays the bills, even if we know that the job wont get us nowhere. For example where I work, there are people who have been in the same position for over 25 years, yet they stay there because they know what is expected of them and what they have to do every day. Also they stay because that is what pays their rent and they feel that they can get away with certain things that they wont be able to if they started a new job.
we don’t have to conform or let our jobs become a ritual, or try to go up the corporate ladder by innovating. We can always find a way to get what we want even if it takes time. We can use our current employment and learn things that will help us find something better in the future, yes finding employment is difficult now-a-days, but the experience and knowledge we can always find something better.