Under the current societal context that is exhibited by crimes, researchers have dedicated their efforts and time to try finding out some of the behaviors that lead to crimes. Accordingly, a wide range of ecological, biological, integrated, criminological and conflict theories have been proposed and gained popularity amongst the members of the public (Featherstone & Deflem, 2003). These theories are primarily distinct from each other but not entirely unrelated. In this case, the core concern is the Anomie and Strain Theory that focuses on the negative implications of the relationships between individuals on the development of crimes. Anomie and Strain Theory can be traced historically from a criminology perspective about Merton and Durkheim (Murphy & Robinson, 2008).

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In that regard, it is imperatively logical to state that amongst the many theories that have been developed to explain the origin of crime tendency in the contemporary society, anomie offers the best platform for describing the increasing crime trend (Featherstone & Deflem, 2003). Nonetheless, Merton and Durkheim have developed and consequently attached different meanings to the term anomie. For example, Durkheim is imperative that anomie can be described as the features of all the entire societal groups and transitions when there are no rules and norms in place. Apparently, the condition of normlessness compels individuals to develop deviant behavior because they are incapable of controlling their desires (Murphy & Robinson, 2008).

Durkheim continued that the state of normlessness is commonly associated with rapid societal change where the traditional norms are questioned and the new rules being difficult to establish (Murphy & Robinson, 2008). Merton, on the other hand, argues that anomie is not essentially a temporary societal state but rather a chronic behavior of some communities. Thus, unlike Durkheim who builds his explanation on the disruption or absence of norms, Merton is confident that social and cultural disintegration are the foundational platform for crimes. He emphasizes on goals and values alongside the means of achieving them stating that there are societies that are not consistent in stressing on values and means that could be used to reach them. Unfortunately, the values are apparently incongruent with the legitimate means of reaching the objectives (Featherstone & Deflem, 2003).

  • Featherstone, R., & Deflem, M. (2003). Anomie and strain: Context and consequences of Merton’s two theories. Sociological inquiry, 73(4), 471-489.
  • Murphy, D. S., & Robinson, M. B. (2008). The Maximizer: Clarifying Merton’s theories of anomie and strain. Theoretical Criminology, 12(4), 501-521.