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Using an Integrated Typology of Deviance to Expand Merton's Anomie Theory

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Although Merton himself recognized that positive innovations can occur under conditions of anomie, his famous typology did not examine social reactions and the existence of overconformity to norms. Accordingly, the typical focus of anomie theory is on negative behaviors (underconformity). We previously proposed a typology, which recognizes the existence of both norms and social reactions in the deviance production process. The typology cross-classifies reactivist and normative definitions of deviance. Negative deviance is behavior that involves underconformity to norms and negative evaluations. Rate-busting is overconformity that is negatively evaluated. Deviance admiration is underconformity that is positively evaluated. Positive deviance refers to overconformity that is positively evaluated. We use our typology to expand Merton's anomie theory of deviance, by showing that social reactions and overconformity are important to consider with any deviance typology.

Keywords: Anomie; Deviance Admiration; Merton; Negative Deviance; Positive Deviance; Rate Busting

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-03-01

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