Strain Theory Essay

1401 words - 6 pages

General Strain Theory
The General Strain Theory (or GST) was created by Robert Agnew and outlines the reasoning behind as to why people are pressured into committing crime due to negative life strains. Robert K. Merton first introduced the strain theory in 1938. He went on to explain how the United States is an unusual society where we all share the same common “American dream” (Lilly, 2011). Merton (1968) warned that this ambition ultimately “promotes a cardinal American vice, ‘deviant behavior” (p.200), and that the social structure limits access to the goal of success through legitimate means (Lilly, 2011). Even though the theory gained much support in the 1960s, many ...view middle of the document...

” According to the general strain theory, strain can cause negative emotions such as anger, depression, and frustration. When anger is the result of strain, deviant responses including retaliatory, instrumental, or escapist behavior are more likely (Capowich et al., 2001). It is also important to take note that Robert Agnew’s strain theory does acknowledge other responses to strain that are non-criminal or deviant (Agnew, 1992:66). Only certain strained individuals resort to a delinquent lifestyle. General strain theory also states that the reaction to strain is completely dependent on the nature, intensity, and duration. It is also a common occurrence for many people to respond to strain in non-deviant ways at first, but soon after a failure in success they then adopt illegitimate coping strategies (Broidy, 2001). The overall basis of the general strain theory is the prediction that prolonged exposure to strain will produce adverse effects in individuals.
Several historical developments in criminology led to the creation of the general strain theory presented by Robert Agnew. In 1957, Merton developed the anomie theory, which stated that a shortage of legitimate means to achieve goals set by society encouraged the use of illegitimate means or individuals lowered their goals (teevan et al., 2000). The actual origins of Merton’s theory can be linked with Emile Durkheim’s theories of anomie. When a certain society lacks social norms, it is unable to control human beings and their natural means of obtaining goals. Cohen’s theory in 1955 stated that an inability to do well in school is what leads to delinquency or rebellion in minors. The inability to perform at a higher level in school by certain students was often because of insufficient funding/means held. It was proposed by (Bloch and Niederhoffer, 1958) that delinquency was a reflection of boys natural needs to show their masculinity and maturity in a society that labels them as children. Agnew utilized all of these theories and combined them into what became known as the general strain theory in 1990.
A big utilization of strain theory is found in schools. Robert Agnew and many others have done much research involving the personal strain experienced by students and how exactly they are likely to deal with it. Unfortunately, it has been seen through events such as school shootings that the effects of intense strain are quite serious. A certain study was conducted concerning general strain theory in which several middle and high school students in New Hampshire were subject to a questionnaire asking a series of personal questions. The main purpose of the test was to prove that with a known perception of injustice in a person’s life, a certain strain is put in place, which leads to deviant behavior of the individual. The perception that a strain is not only unpleasant but also undeserved might increase the possibility of negative emotional reactions (Rebellon, 2012). The test...

Other Essays Like Strain Theory

Book Review With Use Of Sociological Theories Of: Ain't No Makin'It: Aspirations & Attainment In A Low-Income Neighborhood By Jay MacLeod

1916 words - 8 pages Ain't No Makin' It, was insightfully written by Jay MacLeod. MacLeod conducted his study as an undergrad student attending a nearby university. His goal was to observe people in their own setting to begin to understand and test certain theories. The three main theories that will be used to support the book are Merton's Strain Theory, Sutherland's Differential Association Theory, and Karl Marx's Achievement Ideology. The book follows the lives

Functionalist and Interactionist Views on the "War on Drugs"

813 words - 4 pages , protestors promoting the legalization of marijuana are an example of deviants violating social norms in order to bring about change. We can also incorporate illegal drug use into Robert Merton’s Structural Strain Theory. According to the strain theory, people feel strain when they are exposed to cultural goals that they are unable to attain because they don’t believe in the goals or cannot achieve them through culturally accepted means. When that

Sociological Causes of Crime

538 words - 3 pages rates to social disorganization or social strain. According to social disorganization theory, poverty, widespread family dysfunction, poor quality education and high rates of unemployment all conspire to lead members of society towards criminal behavior. A disorganized society cannot adequately equip its members with the tools required for behavior which conforms to socially acceptable norms and standards and therefore members of such a society are

How the Affects of Economics, Crime, and Prevention Is Affecting America

5375 words - 22 pages commit crimes, but their crimes are usually less serious than those committed by lower-class youths. Basically a social structure theory focuses on two major factors that influence delinquency: socioeconomic conditions and cultural values. These conditions and values, in turn are based on social and economic inequality in the social structure. The social structure theories include ecological theory, strain theory, and subculture theory. Ecological

Personal Criminological Theory

766 words - 4 pages costs of committing the crime then they decide whether or not to commit the crime. In the rational choice theory, one must also consider the effect that one's environment has upon their decisions making process. The strain theory is based on social structures and it forcing individuals to commit the crime, such as the gang member that is being told to kill a member of a rival gang or be shot himself. “Sometimes when these expectations are so

Social Organization Crime Prespective

788 words - 4 pages to victory and dispenses the result. In addition, criminal systems converges on a neighborhood, directs the neighborhood and its citizens. Moreover, illegal systems form a tight – knit- connections between lawful establishments and proprietors choosing to engage in the systems achievements (White, 2013). Alien Theory The alien hypothesis says people engage in established wrongdoings in the cities of Sicily and Italy made criminal systems. People

The Future of Crime Theory

893 words - 4 pages punishment for crimes similar in nature fails to address the issue of recidivism. This is very apparent in violent crimes. Differential Coercion Theory Mark Colvin’s recent integrated crime causation theory, referred to as differential coercion theory, is the combination of specific elements from theories of general strain, self-control, social learning, social support, and control balance (Barak, 2002). Dynamic theory like differential coercion

Biological and Social Deviance

2286 words - 10 pages 1938 during the Great Depression Merton put forward his strain theory, which was that “social structures exert a definite pressure upon certain persons in society to engage in non-conforming rather than conforming conduct” (Jones 1995: 98). Emile Durkheim used the concept of anomie in relation to suicide; Merton gives a deeper explanation and applies anomie to deviant behaviour and he also laid the basis for the general theory of deviance (Adler, F

Personal Criminological Theory

1387 words - 6 pages Criminological theories are designed and studied for law enforcement agencies to fight crime. These theories are based on different ideas of why crime is committed and why it is committed in certain areas. There are many criminological theories. Some of these are rational choice theory, social disorganization theory, strain theory, social learning theory, social control theory, labeling theory, and biology, genetics, and evolution theories

Sterotype People in Criminal Justice

1253 words - 6 pages are noticeable in poor neighborhoods where most of the people leaving there are primarily lower-class citizens (Siegel, 2010). Social disorganization theory, strain theory and cultural deviance theory all fall under the social structure theory. Each of these theories tries to help people understand what causes other people to join violent gangs. Although each of these theories deviates in some aspects from the thought at the end they all share

What Is the Main Cause for Violence?

870 words - 4 pages store for example. I believe society puts pressures on young adults especially they have to have a certain way of life and the only way they can fit in would be to take what others have by any way necessary. I remember in another criminal justice class study about the social causes of violence and there were three theories that had probable cause. They were the strain theory, social learning theory, and the control theory. With the strain theory

Related Papers

Merton's Strain Theory In Relation To Shoplifting

841 words - 4 pages Merton used Durkheim's concept of anomie to form his own theory, called Strain Theory. Merton argued that anomie is not created by dramatic social change, but rather by a social structure that holds the same goals to all its members without giving them equal means to achieve them. Merton stated that all members of a capitalist society have goals such as "wealth, status and personal happiness", (Merton, 1938) and that the means available to

Criminal Justice 105 Unit 3 Essay

1987 words - 8 pages 2012 AIU Online 6/23/2012 ------------------------------------------------- Theories of Crime Causation Unit 3 Ind. Project The Sociological Theories Abstract The author of this paper focuses on the mainstream of criminology and the sociological theories of crime that have dominated the landscape for decades. The author focuses specifically on the social control theory, strain theory, differential association theory

Sociology Essay

582 words - 3 pages FUNCTIONALISM – MERTON – 3 MARKS WHY IS MERTONS THEORY CALLED STRAIN THEORY? Merton believed that when societal norms, or socially accepted goals, such as the 'American Dream,' place pressure on the individual to conform, they force the individual to either work within the structure society has produced, or instead become members of a deviant subculture in an attempt to achieve those goals. NAME TWO OF THE RESPONSES TO THE STRAIN? non

Industrial Engineering Essay

4948 words - 20 pages benevolent sharing of information. * To Prof. S. K. Chakrabarti, for giving us a new perspective to engineering by introducing us to such a fascinating topic CONTENTS: No. TOPIC PAGE NO. 1. INTRODUCTION 4 2. OBJECTIVE 5 3. THEORY 5 4. PROJECT DETAILS 10 5. WORK DETAILS 11 6. PROCESSES AND OPERATIONS 12 7. PROCESS CHART 14 8. CALCULATION OF ALLOWANCES 15 9. ALLOWANCE CHART 16 10. CALCULATION