Sociology Daily Answer Writing (22-09-2022)


  1. Incomplete conformity to means and goals leads to deviance. Analyse.  (20)
  2. Critically analyse the contributions of G.H. Mead to symbolic interactionism  (20)

Integrated Prelims + Mains Test Series
For UPSC Prelims and Mains 2023
Test series with one-to-one Mentorship!

Model Solutions

Q1. Incomplete conformity to means and goals leads to deviance. Analyse. 20

Model Structure

  • Merton discusses the idea of deviance in his “Social Structure and Anomie”. Deviance describes actions or behaviours that violate informal social norms or formally-enacted rules.

Main Body

  • The idea of deviance comes from the concept of anomie. Merton saw anomie as a part of the system and a general feature of society which is always there.
  • He sees it in terms of goals and means. The goals are culturally prescribed and are held out as legitimate objectives, for all the members of the society. Members are supposed to strive for these objectives. Further, there are socially accepted ways of reaching these goals. That is, there are normatively controlled means to pursue these ends.
  • A mismatch between cultural prescriptive means and socially prescriptive goals give way to deviant behaviour.
  • There are different opportunities and inequality in the accessibility of means between individuals. This differential access to legitimate means and opportunities to achieve goals results in strain, namely, a sense of frustration and injustice.
  • Therefore anomie theory is also known as social strain theory. The strain is the product of mismatch between culturally prescriptive means and socially prescriptive goals. When people experience social strain, they channelize their strains in different ways in order to manifest different forms of anomic behaviour. At different points of time. These forms of deviant behaviours are functional, dysfunctional and non-functional.
  • Merton presents some typical responses of individual adaptations to the discrepancy between culture and social structure which are as follows:
    • Conformity: A non-deviant adaptation where people continue to engage in legitimate occupational or educational roles despite environmental pressures toward deviant behaviour. That is, the conformist accepts and strives for the cultural goal of material success by following institutionalised means.
    • Innovation: It involves acceptance of the cultural goal but rejection of legitimate, institutionalised means. This type of adaptation occurs when the individual has assimilated the cultural emphasis on the goal without equally internalising the institutional norms.
    • Ritualism: The ritualist is an over-conformist. Here, the pursuit of the dominant cultural goal of economic success is rejected or abandoned and compulsive conformity to institutional norms becomes an end in itself.
    • Retreatist: They reject both cultural goals and institutionalised means . Therefore, retreatism involves complete escape from the pressures and demands of organised society. Merton applies this adaptation to the deviant role ―activities of psychotics, outcasts, chronic drunkards, and drug addicts.
    • Rebellion; The rebel not only rejects the goals and means of the established society but actively attempts to substitute new goals and means in their place.
    1. It wrongly assumes that a single system of cultural goals is shared by the entire society. The goals are different for different people. Everyone does not aim for the same goals. 2) It fails to explain why some people choose one response, while others choose a different one. 3) Some have been pointed out that certain types of deviance-rape, the behaviour of hippies in the 1960s- have not been accommodated in his analysis. 4) ther critics argue that Merton’s theory ignores the influence of society’s reactions in the development of deviance.


  • Deviance represents a middle range phenomenon which is an exemplification of Merton’s idea of middle range. With theory of deviance he highlighted the dysfunctions and modified the existing functional approach.

Q2. Critically analyse the contributions of G.H. Mead to symbolic interactionism 20

Model Structure

  • Mead introduced a new perspective to sociology when he gave more importance to the micro-structure in a social setting.
  • Definition of Symbolic interactionism

Main Body

  • Hitherto, sociology had subordinated the individual to the social structure and thus agency was completely subordinated to the structure.
  • We can say Mead further thinned the wall between Sociology and Psychology.
  • Mead used the concept of Pragmatism as introduced by Dewey in which an actor before taking any social action evaluates all the alternatives and takes the best one for social interaction.
  • He was also inspired by Cooley’s socio-psychological concept of ‘looking glass self’ (briefly write about this term).
  • Moreover to systematically develop the Symbolic Interactionism as a perspective he introduced the concepts such as ‘Significant and Insignificant Symbols’
  • Basic tenets of Symbolic interactionism:
    • Humans act as per the symbols assigned towards the thing
    • These symbols are developed in due course of interaction
    • With changes in the meaning of symbol, human behaviour changes
  • Criticism (EXAMPLES)
    • Subjectivity and value loaded study mares Objective analysis
    • Origin of symbol is not specified by GH Mead
Previous Post

Next Post