Crime Is the Result of Individuals Making Choices to Commit Crime; It Is Not the Result of Their Social Circumstances. Discuss This Statement.

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Crime in our society can be defined as an act or the omission of an act that is morally or legally wrong. Many factors contribute to criminal behavior which range from delinquent nature of one’s personality to various socioeconomic challenges one may face in their life time, including child abuse, parental and peer rejection, homelessness and marital problems. The General Strain Theory (GST) broadly explains the association between social circumstances and crime/delinquency. According to the theory, individuals who experience strain are more likely to engage in crime. Strains are defined as stressful events and conditions disliked by individuals. These strains have two categories; objective strain and subjective strain. Objective strain is what is disliked by the majority while subjective strains are disliked by the individuals who experience them. Agnew (2001) suggested that earlier researches of GST were focused on objective strains which brought inconsistencies in results, leading to criticism. The purpose of this essay is to explore Agnew (2001)’s General Strain Theory to discuss whether crime is a choice made by an individual or the influence of their social circumstances. Although the theory has gained significant amounts of criticism, the link between socioeconomic circumstances should not be undermined. First part of the essay explains Agnew’s study on GST, the methods involved in the study and its findings. Then these findings are used to discuss the correlation between strains and crime. The essay takes a neutral stance in the argument with a slight shift to that crime is cause by certain circumstances.

In year 2001, Agnew carried out a survey research with a sample of 500 Italian youth consisting of even ratio of male and female from wide ranges of age and geographical locations. The purpose of this study was to find out which sociological strain had influence on crime. The study first examined which strains are disliked by those experiencing them...
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