Explore BrainMass

Merton's Concept of Anomie

Messner & Rosenfeld renewed academia's interest in Merton's concept of anomie with their publication of Crime and the American Dream. Are there views of American institutions more or less relevant today? In what way?

Solution Preview

I know this theory and book well. What I will do is throw out a bunch of ideas and you take it from there.

Robert Merton on anomie:
Lack of connection and communication among different facets of social organization. Two parts of this whole exist: the ideals and values of a society, and, second, the institutions within which these ideals are supposed to be manifest.
This approach is the best because it is holistic ? it takes in the entire social structure and its problems.

Culture helps create crime and deviance when its basic goals are distorted. Criminality here is partly manifest in conformity, but only partially. If a society values economic success without fully articulating the legitimate means this can be earned, then financial crime might be the result (60-61).

Now, in terms of institutions:

Institutions are the skeletal system of society. They are not so much the values and ideals of social life, but how these ideals are actually manifest in our life. They ?channel? our activity to socially useful ends.
The four institution the authors stress are the family, the economy, the policy (or the state) and education. These overlap and condition each other (76). Therefore, for social to function ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses Merton's concept of anomie.