Robert Merton’s goal attainment theory illustrates the way a person adapts to the tenets of a certain culture to enable him/her to achieve a certain goal. The responses of such an individual can be divided into four: conformity, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Among these, the concept of conformity is applicable to rapper, 21 Savage.
Merton’s strain theory describes deviance as an inevitable means adopted by people when they experience strain while trying to establish approved and sufficient ways to realize culturally valued objectives. Moreover, the theory asserts that societies are made up of two aspects; social structure and culture. The identity of people in a society as well as their lifestyle, objectives, and thinking process are all decided by the culture of the nation. Similarly, the social structure enables them to achieve their life’s goals and motivates them to be optimistic and dedicated (Sealock, 2). In the United States, economic success is an objective that everybody strives to achieve. However, it is essential to have a positive outlook and sense of personal awareness to fit in a social system characterized by a consumerist lifestyle and capitalist economy. Merton asserts that the cultural system of the U.S was founded on the American Dream, which is a group of meritocratic principles that assured the citizens that equality of opportunity was available to everybody irrespective of race, gender, and class (Agnew, 144). These ideals guide those who have been seeking success, which is defined in terms of wealth and power in the materialistic society. Individuals are expected to follow these goals through legitimate methods like education. Society also views hard work, abilities and ambition as determining factors of achievements.
The principle of conformity is applicable to individuals who accept the culturally valued goals and the methods of pursuing and earning them in legitimate ways. The concept is applicable to 21 Savage since he is an immigrant has attained success in the American rap industry. He has had to conform to the norms of American rap culture to get an audience base. If 21 Savage has chosen to stick to the British-style of rapping, it is highly unlikely that he would have gained any relevance in the American rap industry.
Based on the aforementioned description, it is apparent that 21 Savage has used conformity to achieve the American Dream. This is demonstrated in his music since he mainly raps about the American way of life and has taken an approach connected with rappers from the Southern United States. Since he has spent a significant portion of his life in Atlanta, he has conformed to a style known as “mumble rap.” By working hard on this style and sticking to the ideals treasured by most fans of the genre, the rapper has managed to attain success in the industry and hence, he is highly regarded by his peers. 21 Savage is a perfect illustration of how a person uses the principle of conformity to adjust to the values of a society to gain success and thrive in it. His music is distinctively American despite his immigrant status. Understanding the cultural and sociological principles and progressing in conformity with them in his chosen field has enabled him to pursue his objective of becoming a successful musician.
In conclusion, the principle of conformity in the strain theory is applicable to rapper, 21 Savage. The concept states that deviance as an inevitable means adopted by people when they experience strain while trying to establish approved and sufficient ways to realize culturally valued objectives. 21 Savage has adopted the American ideals to realize success in the industry. His example also demonstrates how cultural values have a strong influence on a person.
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Agnew, Robert. “Revitalizing Merton: General strain theory.” The origins of American criminology. Routledge, 2017. 143-164.
Sealock, Miriam D. “Strain Theories.” The Encyclopedia of Juvenile Delinquency and Justice (2017): 1-6.