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‘Sleep Theory' Or Anomie Theory

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Although this theory was effected in 1938, during that time, social interests were not awakened; hence it was referred to as the ‘sleep theory.’ However, it did gain public interest in the year 1954 which was due to its insistence on the notion that crime comes as a result of innovation. Anomie’s theory was accepted due to the development of a class-based society. The discrepancy between achieving one’s goals and the means to get to those goals varies from class to the other. The difficulty in achieving the goals causes psychological stress, which further leads to social conflicts. Under this theory, innovation entails the non-recognition of legal means in achieving one’s goals.

However, anomie theory suggests that the solution to prevent crimes of such manner is to come up with the best social policies. Since it is evident that the crimes come as a result of innovation or even rebellion, it is, therefore, the duty of justice and law-making departments to come up with ways of raising the social strata of the poor people. This theory is practical. It can be used to solve most of the modern-day problems entirely. Besides, do not engage in crime because they like it, but because they lack alternative possibilities. But this theory explains only monetary crimes, which include theft or burglary and crimes as murder and rape. He also explains that only the lower class has the difficulties in achieving legitimate goals, and he assumes that the middle and upper class have already achieved and are at disposal with the legal means to achieve their goals. Besides, the theory does not explain why someone becomes an innovator and why people react differently when they are stressed.

Application of the theory

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In the ‘United States department of justice’ case scenario, it is evident that Stokes decided to get involved with a crime even though those killed were his family members at the same time being in possession of a handgun since those found dead had gun wounds. It is easy for a poor person to engage in activities since he has a history of domestic violence. Besides, residing in the suburbs is an indication that they were poor. Hence, the means to get to achieve their goals are minimal. Therefore they resort to their family members to release their stress, which ends up being fatal, one as experienced in this state.

Similarly, Merton explains that people who came from lower social backgrounds mostly resort to means like innovation, conformity, ritualism, and rebellion because they have fewer chances of achieving their goals in a society that favors and is dominated by the upper class. It can be explained that he lacks a job because cases of domestic violence emanate from a lack of financial stability. From the theory, he may have been blocked from getting assistance from the United States since he came from the lower class in the society. Furthermore, at that age, he has needs. For example, eating, providing for those who depend on him, and paying bills ranging from rent, electricity, and water. He cannot be depending on his parents because he is fully grown up. Therefore, he felt out the place as a result of being unable to meet his needs, which made to act violently towards his family members. Usually, such a situation makes them stay in the lower class since they cannot get enough to move to the next class.

Theorist point of view on the crimes committed.

In conclusion, Merton’s Anomie asserts that first, this crime was committed because society arranged social classes, which include upper, middle, and lower classes. In this system, lower-class people find it challenging to move to the upper class. The reason for this is that they are blockade to move to the upper class because they lack money. Secondly, the crime was committed due to a lack of an alternative way to achieve their goals. For instance, a lack of good jobs for the lower class people, which can enable them to pay bills at the same time save for the future, is never available. As a result, they engage in crimes to fill this financial gap. Ultimately, the people involved in this crime were psychologically stressed. When one lacks legal ways to make a living, they became stressed; hence they became innovators. One cannot assert that Stokes was ignorant of what he was doing, given the fact that those he killed were his relatives. Supposing he came from the upper class, they would not have engaged in such crimes because they would be exposed to all the necessary resources they need to make a living. Furthermore, they would have gotten society’s approval to get whatever they wanted. Thirdly this crime was committed since they wanted to be socially recognized. The lower class people are never proud of the state they are in. Moreover, they are not respected by society, and they lack the pleasures of the world. The feeling of un-acceptance by others leads to stress. Therefore they engage in crimes to get things that will make them accepted by society.

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‘Sleep Theory’ Or Anomie Theory. (2022, February 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from
“‘Sleep Theory’ Or Anomie Theory.” Edubirdie, 27 Feb. 2022,
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‘Sleep Theory’ Or Anomie Theory [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 27 [cited 2023 May 24]. Available from:
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