The Innovator Subcategory Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  920 Words
Date:  2022-08-10

The innovator sub-category is one of the five sub-categories developed by Roberto Merton to explain the social groups that exist in the public sphere. The theorist specifically developed the strain theory to explain the rising crime rates in America. According to Merton, the American society relies on a set of principles that guarantees success to everyone provided they worked hard. These principles assured equality to everyone regardless of their gender, race or status in the society. The success otherwise known as the American dream was attainable through socially accepted means such as education and work. However, as Merton explains, the nation does not provide a way for everyone to achieve these goals and that creates a strain. As a result, people have to find another way to achieve their goals, which forces them to adapt.

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Of the five categories of adaptation, the innovator sub-category is the main contributor to crime in the overall society (Agnew,2001). People in this sub-category use socially unacceptable and unconventional means to achieve success such as stealing. For purposes of this discussion, the focus will be on drug traffickers. Specifically, the Sinaloa Cartel formerly headed by Joaquin Guzman nicknamed as El Chapo. By use of the cartel's track record, the paper will show how these behaviors fit into the innovation sub-category. The innovation type of deviance is similar to the conformity in that they both accept the cultural goals of the society. The difference is while the conformity group has taken to the societal means of achieving these goals, the innovators resort to the socially unacceptable methods (Agnew et al., 2002).

The mainstream society defines wealth as the definition of success. A person or a group define their goals by how much wealth the can acquire. That is the case for conformers. The innovators sub-culture holds the same opinion. They too regard wealth as a measure of success.

An example of this is the wealth that the Sinaloa cartel has amassed over the years. At one point the drug kingpin El Chapo ranked as the 10th richest person in Mexico. That goes to show how much the innovators value wealth. Despite their acceptance of the societal goals, they do not conform to the socially accepted mode of acquiring this wealth. Drug use and drug trafficking are habits that the mainstream society considers as unusual behavior. As a result, people involved in these activities face segregation from the rest of the community. They, however, choose this method of achieving success due to failures in the system. For example, there are insufficient jobs which mean not everyone can use the socially acceptable way of getting a job to achieve their goals.

Also, another societal failure that creates deviant behavior is the expensive education system. The price of a college education does not allow people from a poor background to get a college education that can prepare them for the job market. For example, a large portion of the Sinaloa Cartel are youths from a poor background whose parents could not afford to take them to school. They had to innovate to achieve their goals. Their methods do not conform with the rest of society, but it was an innovation after the system failed to provide them with an alternative.

While discussing the means of achieving goals, it is essential to consider the part played by the life experiences (Holt, 2007). Different societies have different definitions of success. They also have various means of achieving their goals. Roberto Merton came up with the strain theory using the societal standards of the United States. The majority of drug traffickers are from Latin America where drug trafficking is rampant. To these groups, drug trafficking was the only way they knew of achieving success. El Chapo, for example, was raised into the drug trade. To him, drug trafficking was the only acceptable way of making his goals possible. Before taking charge of the Sinaloa Cartel, he worked under Hector Palma by transporting drugs and overseeing shipments from the interior of Mexico to Urban areas near the Mexico-US border. Guzman was raised and bread into the drug trade. He also established himself as the top drug trafficker in the world through being ruthless and relentless. His methods were extreme compared to the other drug kingpins because of his ambition. His technique made him a deviant, but it was because of the life he experienced. He used the only means he knew to reach his goals. Because of his technique, he was also a deviant group within his sub-culture.


The innovators sub-culture is famed for engaging in illegal activities. Their means of attaining their goals usually involves breaking the law, which is why the rest of society shuns them. The Sinaloa Drug Cartel fits into the innovation sub-category because of their illicit activities. Other than drug trafficking, the Sinaloa Cartel is involved in money laundering, contract killing and even human trafficking which makes them one of the most wanted groups in America. Acts of murder and money laundering do not conform to the established norms of mainstream society as a means to success.


Agnew, R. (2001). Building on the foundation of general strain theory: Specifying the types of strain most likely to lead to crime and delinquency. Journal of research in crime and delinquency, 38(4), 319-361.

Agnew, R., Brezina, T., Wright, J. P., & Cullen, F. T. (2002). Strain, personality traits, and delinquency: Extending general strain theory. Criminology, 40(1), 43-72.

Holt, T. J. (2007). Subcultural evolution? Examining the influence of on-and off-line experiences on deviant subcultures. Deviant Behavior, 28(2), 171-198.

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