Understanding the Similarities to Strain Theory and General Theory of Crime

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Understanding the similarities of Strain Theory,
&
General Theory of Crime

Angela Sampson # 2396467
Sociology 345: Social Control
Professor: James Chriss
Cleveland State University
April 30th 2012

Abstract:
The purpose is to identify the similarities between Strain theories, and General Theory of Crime. Strain was developed from the work of Durkheim and Merton and taken from the theory of anomie. Durkheim focused on the decrease of societal restraint and the strain that resulted at the individual level, and Merton studied the cultural imbalance that exists between goal and the norms of the individuals of society. “General Theory of Crime”, In 1990 Michael R. Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi wrote the book “A General Theory of Crime”. Compared to the originally presented control theory over twenty years earlier, this one is a more refined version of this theory. (LaCunninghamst, 2006).

Introduction
In my research I found that the strain theory has many components. Strain theory was developed from the work of Durkheim and Merton and taken from the theory of anomie. Durkheim focused on the decrease of societal restraint and the strain that resulted at the individual level, and Merton studied the cultural imbalance that exists between goal and the norms of the individuals of society. Anomie can be broken down into two levels. The first of these levels is the macroside of anomie, which is manifest in the inability of society to set limits on goals and regulate individual conduct. The microside of anomie, also known as strain theory, is focused on the reasons behind the increased likelihood of deviance that results from the breakdown of society. According to this microside of anomie, the decrease in societal regulations creates an increase pressure to commit deviant acts. (Agnew, 1992) Robert Agnew’s revisions of the strain theory address many of the criticisms of the original strain theory. According to the original strain theory, an increase in aspirations and a decrease in expectations should lead to an increase in delinquency; however, this was not found to be the case. Also, the original strain theory predicted a concentration of delinquent behavior in the lower class, but research proved that delinquency was also common in the middle and upper classes. Other variables are also neglected by this theory of strain, such as the abandonment of crime in late adolescence and the quality of family relationships. Agnew broadened the scope of strain theory to include many more variables that addressed the criticisms of the original strain theory. He attempted to explore strain theory from a perspective that accounted for goals other than money and that considered an individual’s position in social class, expectations for the future, and associations with criminal others. Agnew’s general strain theory is based on the general idea that "when people are treated badly they may get upset and engage in crime". The general strain theory identifies the ways of measuring strain, the different types of strain, the link between strain and crime, and policy recommendations based on the theory. (Agnew, 1992) There are three major types of strain according to general strain theory. They are the failure to achieve positively valued goals, the loss of positive stimuli, and the presentation of negative stimuli. The first strain results from an individual’s failure to achieve positively valued goals. Agnew noted that there are three different types of goals for which members of the society strive. The first of these is money. Money is a cause of strain when it is not available to the individual through legitimate means. Agnew found that monetary strain was related to crime in a limited fashion, and that the previous studies may not be accurately measuring all aspects of monetary goal blockage. The findings from this study do seem to confirm that delinquents desire to gain large amounts of money. (Agnew, 1996). Another type...
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