Anomie and strain theory case study

 Watch the film Falling Down starring Michael Douglas to see the effects of anomie or strain and relate the film to research by Merton, Agnew, and other strain theorists. Analyze how the lead character’s behavior demonstrates these theories.

According to rational choice theory, law-violating behavior is the product of careful planning and thought processes—the concept of free will is thus introduced. Anomie (theory) results when socially defined goals are mandated but access to legitimate means is stratified by class and status. The result is a lack of norms or clear social standards. Strain (theory) is the emotional turmoil and conflict caused when people believe they cannot achieve their desired goals through legitimate means.

After you have analyzed the lead character’s behavior in terms of anomie and strain theories, extrapolate this analysis to the group you are studying for your final project.

  • How would these pressures present themselves in a group setting?
  • Is there still an American dream in this country? Has this concept changed for certain groups in this country? How so?
  • Does society place too much emphasis on success today?
  • What are some examples that illustrate this relative to your specific gang or group?

Review the Anomie and Strain Theory Case Study Scoring Guide to understand the grading criteria for this assignment.

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