Robert Merton’s anomie theory for understanding the causes of crime in contemporary society


How useful is Robert Merton’s anomie theory for understanding the causes of crime in contemporary society?

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Crime in the society is one of the most abhorred values. Criminal activities have so much invaded the society into its core, resulting in a society that has too much insecurity and fraud[1]. It is for this reason that the study of criminology is very important. So what is the origin of crime in our society? What caused man to change so much from how he was created as to engage in crime?  These are the questions that Robert Merton answers in his theory of anomie. Robert Merton’s anomie theory is also referred to as the strain theory or sometimes as means-ends theory[2].  Robert K. Merton was a respectable American sociologist who throughout his career developed several social theories. Most of these theories were mainly influenced by his childhood experiences, hence the basis of the theories.

One of the most common theories of Robert Merton is the theory of anomie. In this theory, he starts by stating that, though science has an explanation for why various factors and habits are the way they are, biological reasons do not clearly account for the wide variations in the nature of the society. He focuses on explaining why the variations are so diverse between different societies and the subsequent subgroups within the society. He does not set his interest on expounding the variations in behaviors of the persons as individuals……

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