General Strain Theory

Topics: Criminology, Sociology, Crime Pages: 2 (462 words) Published: February 23, 2011
Robert Agnew is a criminologist who discovered The General strain theory. The general strain theory of crime states strain or stress is a major source or criminal motivation. For a better understanding, this theory argues that crime is a result of frustration and anger of lower class caused by a strain between expectations and culture of living in a middle- class world and the reality that those expectations cannot be met. The general strain theory is deals more with the individual. Robert Agnew identified three types of strain that produce deviance in an individual: failure to achieve goals, removal of positive stimuli, and confrontation with negative stimuli.

The first strain results from an individual’s failure to achieve goals. In order for members of society to strive they need three things; money, status/respect, and autonomy. These goals turn into strains when the individual is faced with certain disjunctions in their life. The second strain results from removal of positive stimuli in a person’s life. For example, the loss of something that was once valued; this may lead an individual to delinquency. The third strain results from a confrontation with negative stimuli. This may include child abuse, negative relationships/experiences, neglect, neighborhood problems and many more. All of these examples are likely to lead to deviant behavior. One problem with Agnews general strain theory is the fact that it does not explain why certain actions do not lead to crime with the same regularity; an example would be not doing well in school. Another major draw back in the theory is the lack of ability to explain gender differences in the crime rate. It has been theorized by other theorists but the general strain theory fails to explain this. General strain theory has many effects on crime. General strain theorists propose that people are pressured into crime because of the various strains or negative events or conditions they experience. These strains...
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