Robert Merton (Meyer Schkolnick, at birth) was born in Philadelphia in 1910 and lived to be 92. He was the son of Eastern European Immigrants. Most of Merton’s career, he was a professor at New York’s Columbia University (Scott & Marshall, 2005:404). Dr. Merton contributed great ides to sociology: the study of people.
Interestingly, Merton built upon Anomie where Emíle Durkheim did not. Recall anomie is the feeling of malaise or discombobulation of those unable to adapt to change~a feeling of not knowing how to act or knowing what to do~a normlessness; a symptom of an expanding techno~cultural society.
Merton’s Strain Theory proposed that delinquency and crime result when people perceive their economic situation as frustrated, thus the ideal social goals such as wealth and power are beyond reach: strained. Anomie shapes itself into 5 peculiar behaviors, as anomic people cope with strain (Bartol, 1995:2).
Merton’s strain theory introduced his 5 Modes of Adaptation:
1) CONFORMITY~allowing ones opinions, perceptions, and beliefs to be affected by prevailing attitudes and opinions;
2) RITUALISM~that of strict adherence to means as the goal itself, such as to get by without disturbance, as in the fear~filled bureaucrat;
3) RETREATISM~a self~imposed withdrawal from the world, as in substance~abuse, or with a ”moving to the woods” mindset like that of Theodore Kaczynski (the unabomber); or SUICIDE, the ultimate retreat.
4) REBELLION~rejecting all legitimate means/rules toward goal achievement; one throws out the whole book and writes her own;
5) INNOVATION~is using the legitimate goals of society, but reconfiguring ones own means to them (1995:2).
In sum, Merton believed people were influenced by the values and attitudes of their social circles. Change produces strain and people adapt differently.
The RippleFX Foundation takes the innovative view of Merton’s. We are here provoking answers to our varied problems stemming from social strain. We will face down and adapt to our changing world.
Join with us and make ripples in your community.
-Robert C. Merton, son of Robert K. Merton, in 1997 earned the Nobel Prize for economics:
-R. K. Merton gave us the terms, ”role~model”, and ”self~fulfilling prophecy” among others.
*Merton photo, Columbia University
-Bartol, C. INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR: A Psychosocial Approach, 5th edition. Prentice Hall, NJ: 1999.
-Scott, J. and Gordon Marshall. DICTIONARY OF SOCIOLOGY. Oxford U.P. :2005.