Criticisms of Merton's Anomie Theory and Subsequent Theoretical Advances

Following the publication of "Social Structure and Anomie" in 1938, Robert Merton's influential theory of deviant behavior was the target of criticism by a number of sociologists and criminologists. Many of these critics went on to propose alternative theories designed to strengthen or transcend limitations of Merton's formulation. The following list presents important criticisms of Anomie Theory that served as the foundation for new theoretical developments in the sociological study of deviance and social control.

1. Doesn't explain conformity: Travis Hirschi, Bonding (or Control) Theory
2. Doesn't consider "illegitimate opportunity": Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin, Subculture Theory
3. Overlooks social interaction and group processes: Albert Cohen, Subculture Theory
4. Assumes a common culture in the U.S.: Walter Miller, Lower-Class Culture Theory
5. Ignores social control: Howard Becker, Labeling Theory
6. Overlooks "crime in the suites"—crimes by the wealthy and powerful: Richard Quinney, Conflict Theory