Culturally prescribed aspirations is a rejection of the notion that aspirations are entirely a matter of self-creation; rather they are defined by culture and transmitted by other members of the society. Sociologists have argued, and demonstrated, that groups of people may have quite different culturally prescribed aspirations or goals.
Robert King Merton assumes that everyone shares the same cultural goals or aspirations and that the primary goal is wealth. Sociological ambivalence experienced by the immigrants may be induced by the opportunity structure characterized by the disjunction between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these goals.
This disjunction between culturally ascribed goals, and the availability of legitimate means to attain such goals, puts pressure on the cultural norms that guide what means should be used to achieve the culturally prescribed aspiration.
Cyclical domination of the main spheres of the social life is stipulated by interaction at the macrolevel of the frame of society of two major subsystems, the organizational-managerial and the value-standard ones, the divergence of which consists in a conflict between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured means of their attainment.
Robert Merton emphasis on the conflict between culturally prescribed aspirations and legally sanctioned opportunities of realizing these. Robert Merton saw high unemployment, poverty and crime as an expression of disequilibrium caused by a disassociation between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realising these aspirations.
According to Merton deviant behavior including crime and delinquency may be regarded sociologically as a symptom of dissociation between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues for realizing these aspirations.
Delinquency problems may be regarded as a symptom of social strain caused by the gap between culturally prescribed aspirations (e.g. monetary success) and socially structured avenues designed to achieve goals. Deviant behavior is a form of adaptation to the strain that exists between culturally prescribed aspirations and socially structured avenues.