The Anomie Model of Crime, introduced by Robert Merton was one of the first successful structural models produced as a result of the Chicago School. The theory suggests that there is a consensus among all members of scoiety regarding two things: An accepted goal and an acceptable means to achieve that goal. In the United States and most other industrialized nations the accepted goal is wealth, money, power, etc. and the acceptable means is hard work and diligence.
Often times, however, the goal is stressed above the means. It is not hard work we long for, but wealth. This overemphasized goal leads to anomie, a concept introduced by the father of Sociology Emile Durkheim. This places every member of society in one of five categories, based on his or her acceptance or rejection of the means and goals.
1. Conformity + | +
2. Innovation + | -
3. Ritualism - | +
4. Retreatism - | -
5. Rebellion - | -
Conformity is an acceptance of both means and goals. Since Merton works from an idea that society agrees upon acceptable means and goals, the conformist is the most common person. Someone who works hard, and is rewarded for it.
Innovation is a rejection of the means, but a desire for the goal. Innovators are the group which most criminals would fall in. People who want all the money and power, but reject the notion of having to work hard to earn it.
Ritualism isn't so much a rejection of the goals, but an acceptance that they will never reach those goals. These are the people of society who work hard, killing themselves everyday, but bring home little or nothing to show for it. They believe strongly in the means, but the goal is just out of their reach....
Retreatism describes the individuals who have become tired and fed up with society and it means and goals. They seek to escape and withdraw from society.
Rebellion are those who also reject the means and goals of society, but rather than withdraw, they seek to become an active force of change. Striving to impart their personal goals and the means they see as acceptable to the rest of society.
One of the common misnotions of rebellion is that all people who seek societal change fall into this category. However, most of the calls for social change came from conformists. These people accepted the means and goals, but sought evolution of society, not revolution. They wanted an expansion of the social structure, not a change. The most obvious example is the civil rights movement. These people supported the values, goals and means of the society, only sought to change the people in it, to expand the structure to cover themselves.