Combining Merton’s Strain Theory with Labeling Theory and moral entrepreneurs*

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Ralph G. O'Sullivan


*Originally printed in Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology 2010 38(2).

Ritzer (197 4) wrote that sociology is a multi-paradigmed discipline where each framework can hold several theoretical explanations. Such declarations are often treated individually, but there are often unexplored confluences between them. Merton's goals-means theory of social strain, for example, is here considered as a labeling one heavily laced with implications about moral authority when applied to studies in deviant behavior. The synthesis of dialogues, illustrated with sociological ideas from modern novels, validates the thesis that social complexities deserve integrated explanations.

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