Merton claimed that strain develops when people encounter a gap between their ambitions (typically financial or money-related) and their existing situation. Ritualism use the same socially acceptable tactics to pursue less illusive aims (more modest and humble). Thus, they too can experience strain.
In addition, Merton said that strain arises when people feel restricted in their freedom of movement and action. This could be because of someone else's demands or limitations, such as family responsibilities or physical disabilities. Strains also result from the need to comply with rules or regulations that are put up by others. For example, an employee may feel strained if he or she has to work on Sunday because that's when the company policy is. Or, if a person lives in an authoritarian country, he or she might experience strain due to government restrictions on freedom of speech or religion.
Finally, strains can arise when people want something very much but cannot get it. For example, someone may want to go to Harvard University but cannot do so because it is too expensive. Or, if you're young and in love but your girlfriend or boyfriend does not agree with you plan to marry later, there may be strain due to this disagreement.
How does Merton deal with strain? He claims that people should make an effort to reduce strain by becoming more realistic about themselves and their surroundings.
Ritualism (Robert Merton) refers to the failure to reach a cultural aim, leading to an embrace of the norms to the point where they lose sight of their greater goals in order to feel respectable; rejecting society's goals while accepting society's institutionalized means. It is a form of status quo bias.
This is a common-sense question that needs only a simple answer: because he was a good man. But it can also be explained by ritualism. The bear was killed as part of a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, but Roosevelt did not want to be seen as attacking a bear with no purpose. Thus, he rejected the goal of killing a bear and accepted the norm of shooting one, although he felt badly about it. This example shows that some actions are not done for moral reasons but rather out of respect for custom or authority.
Merton defines ritualism as "the failure to reach a cultural aim, leading to an embrace of the norms to the point where they lose sight of their greater goals in order to feel respectable;" that is, rejecting society's goals while accepting its institutionalized means.
Merton identified the deviant reaction to strain as one of five societal responses he saw. He referred to such deviation as "innovation," whereas the other reactions to pressure were labeled as conformity, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Innovation involves individuals or groups seeking new ways to solve problems or meet challenges without following the traditional rules or solutions.
In his book, Merton describes innovation as people thinking outside of the box. He writes that most people follow the customs of their time and place because it is easy and usually works well. However many people feel compelled to find different ways to do things if they believe that this will help them achieve their goals more effectively or avoid trouble with authorities. This desire to innovate comes from within each person and can no longer be ignored by society as a whole. Individuals who exhibit this trait are called innovators because they are willing to break away from the norm in order to better themselves or others.
Innovation is not limited to art, science, and technology either. It can also be seen in social practices such as fashion, music, and religion. People will often want to try out new styles, tunes, or doctrines and see how they work for themselves or others. When this happens within certain cultures or societies it is known as innovation. These new ideas are usually met with resistance at first but soon become part of the mainstream where they have an impact on future generations.
Strain theory arose from the work of Durkheim and Merton and is based on the notion of anomie. Durkheim concentrated on the loss of societal discipline and the pressure that occurred at the individual level, whereas Merton investigated the cultural imbalance that arises between individual aims and societal norms. Today's strain theorists include Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann.
Berger and Luckmann developed their ideas about the social construction of reality in their book The Social Construction of Reality (1967). They argued that how we perceive the world is shaped by our relationships with others; therefore, what appears to be real is actually a product of society's interpretation of events. This means that what happens in the world is constrained by the values of certain societies, which leads to differences in how people will feel about same events. For example, Americans tend to view violence as more serious than Europeans do, so they would likely respond differently to the same video game or movie.
In addition to examining how society interprets events, strain theorists also look at how this interpretation affects psychological states. They believe that many of us are prone to strains; that is, periods in our lives when we experience tension between our personal desires and those of our society. Strain theorists claim that these tensions can lead individuals to engage in abnormal behaviors because they are looking for relief from their emotional pain.