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Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior Author(s): Richard A. Cloward Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Apr., ), pp. The research paper Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior written by Richard A. Cloward can be found in American Sociological. Illegitimate Means, Anomie and Deviant Behavior. Front Cover. Richard A. Cloward. Bobbs-Merrill, – Anomy – 13 pages.

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Debiant in the organic structure, however, is capable of regulating social desires; as Durkheim put it, man’s “capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss. One may also inquire, however, about variations in access to success-goals by illegitimate means.

Our extension of the typology, like the original, is grounded in implicit social psychological rather than sociological “laws of interaction. The little fellowsadmiredthe “bigshots”and longed for the day when they could get into the big racket. Those and the integration of adult carriers of criminal who come to excel in these respectsare fre- and conventional values.

Investigation of the careers of petty criminals who are alcoholic may reveal that after being actively oriented toward stable criminal careers they then lost out in the competitive struggle. The “self-made”thiefproportion of those who aspire may not be lacking knowledge of the ways of securing permitted to engage in the behavior for which immunity from prosecution and similar tech- they have been prepared.

Finally, mwans access varies directly with class position, comparative rates of illegitimate activity become difficult to forecast. A Correla- 27 Training in conventional, specialized occupational skills is often a prerequisite for the commission of white collar devianr, since the individual must have these skills in hand before he can secure a position entailing “trust.

The process described by Merton may be somewhat more characteristic of higher positions in the social structure where rule-orientedsocialization is typical, while in the lower strata retreatism may tend more often to be the consequence of unsuccessful attempts at innovation. While the theory of role strain attempts to attribute the maintenance of society to role relationships, Goode also acknowledges that the theory does not account for the existence of more complex social settings, such as that of urban society.


The consequenceof this structuralinconsistencyis a highrate of deviant behavior.

Strain theory (sociology) – Wikipedia

Merton has systematized and extended the theory, directing attention to patterns of disjunction between culturally prescribed goals and socially organized access to them by legitimate means. HIS paper I represents an attempt to consolidate two behacior sociological traditions of thought about the problem of deviant behavior. Psychological strains in the behzvior of all the four sources have been tested and supported with a sample of suicide notes in the United States and in rural China through psychological autopsy studies.

This study specifically centered around troubled neighborhoods in Detroit, and the results were based on census data taken of these neighborhoods, mainly because this data contained information on each individual resident’s use of drugs.

Comparative fect socialization with respect to conventional studies of ethnic groups, for example, have norms implies that illegitimate means are shown that some tend to engage in distinc- freely behavoor if the individual, having tive forms of deviance; thus Jews exhibit decided that “you can’t make it legitilow rates of alcoholism and alcoholic psy- mately,” then simply turns to illegitimate choses.

Deviwnt argued that an individual’s actual or anticipated failure to achieve positively valued goals, actual or anticipated removal of positively valued stimuli, and actual or anticipated presentation of negative stimuli all result in strain. From this data, the study found that the more disadvantaged a neighborhood is, the more its residents abuse drugs.

Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior

Hence a certain for deviant behavior. Would we expect, to raise the principal query, the correlation to be fixed or to vary illegiimate on the distribution of access to illegitimate means? If the individual turns to innovating devices, the question of whether or not he becomes a retreatist may then depend upon the relative accessibility of illegitimate means.


Some occupations afford abundant opportunities to engage in illegitimate activity; others offer devint none. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR illegihimate must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.

Once processes generating differen- middle and lower classes result from diftials in pressures are identified, there is then ferential emphases in socialization. Of course, it is perfectly true that “striving for Thus: Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. But this is only one route to retreatism.

In describing the relationship between racketeers and politicians, for example, he notes that “the rackets and political organizations extend from the bottom to the top of Cornerville society, mesh with one another, and integrate a large part of the life of the district. For example, there one type of area to another. When the theoretical propositions contained in this tradition are reanalyzed, it becomes clear that one underlying conception is that of variations in access to success-goals by illegitimate means.

From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold.

Illegitimate Means, Anomie, and Deviant Behavior

But if goal-oriented behavior occurs under churches,fraternaland mutualbenefit socieconditions bshavior socially structured obstacles to fulties and political parties.

By taking into account the conditions of access to legitimate and illegitimate means, we can further specify the circumstances under which various modes of deviant behavior arise. As in the conventional world, Negroes are relegated to the more menial tasks.

Sheer conformity becomes a central value.